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  1. Paul Garland says:

    Here, here !

  2. David says:


    Interesting to read your take on TDOE. I’m still only about a quarter of the way in but seem to be getting something a bit different to you, though I can’t really draw any conclusions till I’m finished. Graeber and Wengrow’s general MO is to present archaeological evidence, mostly from the last twenty years, that calls into question the “myth of progress”, arguing that the story we’re told of our evolution in society from primitive hunter gatherers to our present high tech world is inaccurate and even quite dull. That the truth is way more complex and interesting. They say monarchy is a relatively recent invention and at one point present evidence of an ancient city that was large, with sophisticated architecture and no evidence of a priesthood or monarchy. In other words, it functioned for a considerable length of time with NO ruling elite.

    I’m not familiar with the David Lewis Williams book you mention. I’ve only read one book on shamanism, but it is one of my favourite books that I’ve read and reread several times over the years: “Secrets of the Talking Jaguar: Memoirs from the Living Heart of a Mayan Village” by Martín Prechtel. This book is so amazing I give it a shout out any chance I get! In contrast to the book you mention that seems to present shamans as delusional, manipulative and elitist, Prechtel’s book presents them as very much in service to their community through interfacing with deeper aspects of nature. It is autobiographical, telling of the author’s initiation into shamanism in Guatemala in the 1970s. I know we don’t generally believe in spirits in our culture, but Prechtel writes with such poetic beauty, eloquence and heart, that he lends me a certain suspension of disbelief. I want to believe in the things he writes about! I’m kind of envious of his astonishing adventure, even though it had its trials, but I appreciate that he shared it. It’s well worth checking out, though I suspect it may not be your thing.

  3. Margaret says:


  4. Margaret says:


  5. Margaret says:


  6. Margaret says:

    I am fighting yet one more fight.
    as our mom lately revolts more easily when someone talks to her like ‘you have to..’ or ‘you cannot’, and then gets angry or upset, or sad and feels no one loves her, the staff of the nursing home and her doctor tried again to convince us to agree on trying to give her a daily dose of antipsychotics.
    this time Risperidon, which works by suppressing dopamine.
    I looked it up extensively and replied with a long mail mentioning all the dangerous side effects, and how even in aa small dose they might risk her to fall more easily and possibly break a hip or so, or might invalidate her speech and mental capacities etc.
    our suggestion was to try to give her a daily dose of a very light benzodiazepine, Xanax Retard, and see if that would help against the occasional upsets.
    we do not have a problem with our mom we cannot deal with easily ever, and we told them but then the reply is we are one on one with her, while they do not have the time for that…
    so the real problem is not enough caretakers really.
    finally they agreed in trying our suggestion for 14 days, and evaluating then how it went.
    I do not see the need to prevent any anger or sadness that she would still occasionally express, while I understand they want to not let it get out of control.
    luckily on this matter my brother and me stand side by side, which helps a lot.
    it is still distressing though, our mom still has a fine sense of humor and is still pleasant company for us, and I would hate it if any of that would be damaged by antipsychotics.
    I also told the doctor the use of that specific medication for persons with dementia shoud not be longer than 6 weeks, which seems pointless when it would need to be a longer term treatment for her.
    the possible side effects if used longer are terrible, Parkinson like symptoms, muscle spasms in the face, mouth, hands and feet, sight problems, dizziness, etc. etc.
    they suggested at one point a more individual kind of animation for our mom, which I found a great suggestion, but when I said they could combine it with the light sedative they replied we should between family and friends provide more of that individual company for her.
    that while at first they had promised to do so themselves also.
    so well, now the Xanax started, tomorrow I will go there with my brother, thursday we will take her to the podiatrist, and the Tuesday after that it will be her 92nd birthday we will celebrate.
    let’s hope things work out in a good way,

  7. Daniel says:

    A few days ago, I mentioned I feel I have benefited from what I call, for lack of a better term, the pluralistic aspect of Janov’s method. I would like to explain what I mean by that.

    It is actually a very simple idea. In pathology there is always a narrowing of the emotional, ideational, and experiential spectrum, and a corresponding narrowing of the defensive structure. someone could tend to be always easily hurt, touchy, taking offence, or always finding a reason to complain about others. Or someone who tends to react to all frustrations by being excessively angry. Or someone who deals with his or her difficulties by finding some guru to idealise and follow, trying to launder the mind of its disturbing contents by letting the guru do the minding.

    But, when some of the barriers to feelings are lifted one discovers, at times much to one’s surprise, all sort of feelings and shades of feelings, from all levels of consciousness and mental functioning. One does not feel only hurt, but also anger, sadness, pain, remorse, guilt, and then moments of happiness, perhaps humour in something, and pleasure. One finds he or she is experiencing a sense of surprise, perhaps a first in a very long time, or feelings of trust, compassion, empathy and love.

    You get the picture. One is no longer habitually getting hurt or complaining. I mean, they still do but it’s not on auto-pilot anymore, it’s not the only feeling option they have available, especially when stress is involved. Their feeling field is now more pluralistic. And it all came about by removing barriers to feeling and allowing the psyche-soma to produce what it may, whatever comes, come what may, not needing as much to control and constrain it in a particular direction.

    What sparked these rather obvious thoughts was a comment by Phil where he describes having tender feelings for his mother, which reminded me the long way I made from being angry at my parents, shying away from tender feelings toward them, to loving them (especially my mother) and today thinking of them fondly, forgivingly, and appreciatively.

    When at the institute, feeling something vague, Barry used to say to me, “just talk freely, you’ll blurt it out”. In those days he trusted the process way more than I did. But he was right, and it was the beginning of a life-long process of discovering what needs to be blurted out. It did not solve everything, nor did it completely rid me of pain or neurotic behaviour at times, but it did add richness of feelings and experiencing which allowed me to re-install my parents as (also) good objects inside me. Living life with a sense of having something parentally good inside me was something I could make use of.

    • Paul Garland says:

      Unfortunately, there are some who profess CBT and mindfulness achieve the same thing. But I have found the ‘success’ claimed by many proponents of these ‘ mind philosophies masquerading as psychologies’ is all in the appearances and behaviour of the ‘patient’ and not actually any use to any of the ‘patients’ subjects – in other words, to an outsider these ‘successes’ are no more emathetic than they were before. All they’ve learned to do is ‘act’. It’s amazing what the thinking brain can ‘rote learn’ because it seems so right. Method Acting instead of feeling.

  8. Margaret says:

    one positive aspect of the struggle with the medical staff of the nursing home, is thaat my brother and me came closer together again, forming one front, one team and standing side by side to protect her from being given antipsychotic medication which she does not need.
    I told him it means a lot to me and makes a difficult situation much more bearable.
    he spontaneously gave me a hug, and that feels very nice.
    for the next two weeks mom will be given one Xanax Retard every morning, which hopefully will be enough to ease everyone enough to be able to gently deal with her emotional expressions of fear and frustration.
    when I looked Xanax up, the advice was not to give it longer than a few weeks, but well, isn’t this a kind of medication many perople take for years, and more than just one pill a day?
    so I won’t worry too much about that part, she had taken it yesterday and seemed fine, and was pleasant company, and still her willful and funny self.
    maybe we should prescribe some pills for the nursing staff instead…

  9. Margaret says:

    we have heard that they already changed to half the dose of the Xanax retard they give to our mom, so now 0,25 mg a day.
    I think they were scared she would fall, I decided to call them tomorrow for news, will call my mom later on today.

  10. Phil says:

    Our sons are at our house with both their girlfriends, for the first time, but it feels very stressful and sad because of what’s going on with my wife. It should be a joyful occasion, but it’s far from it.
    They don’t know and we weren’t planning to tell them. My wife is stuck in a very bad feeling about me and there’s nothing I can do about it. I feel it’s way out of proportion to anything that happened recently, but she’s never recovered from many past incidents either. I’m afraid we have to be done living together sooner rather than later because I can’t take much more of this.
    All the bedrooms are occupied, s0 my wife is sleeping on the sofa in the basement, which isn’t a good spot because the furnace keeps going on and off. She has to go to bed very late so no one notices, and still get up very early for work.
    She can’t stand spending even one night with me. Later this week is Thanksgiving and that won’t be much fun either.

    • Sylvia says:

      It does sound so stressful, Phil, like a pressure cooker. Your boys are bound to notice something is amiss. I’d think they wouldn’t want you to suffer. I hope things can lighten up a bit for you.

      • Phil says:

        At least on Thanksgiving I’ll have more family members to relate to who aren’t involved. It’s hard for me to imagine what next year will be like. Big changes are coming. It is very stressful.

        • Sylvia says:

          Yes, you can relate to other friends and family at Thanksgiving–that is good. It must be hard to not think of the future and its changes, but small steps might lighten the ‘right now’ and not have to think about what seems a looming, big feeling of tomorrow attaching to it. I know it’s not easy to do. I guess that is called a melange in primal terms or crossing that bridge when we come to it in everyday speak. Hope your mind eases up. Hey, get a pet, (cat) that will throw a wrench in the works–sorry, couldn’t resist. Just a little humor.
          S 🐱

          • Phil says:

            Sylvia, it’s all part of the feeling. My younger son has a six month old puppy which is helping keep us all distracted. It’s his therapy dog as he recovers from knee surgery.

            • Sylvia says:

              That’s a good distraction, Phil. Our little dog was my mom’s and my therapy distraction whenever she stopped talking to me. I knew when ‘Jacky’ wasn’t feeling well he was more important than our problems and we began to talk again to help with his issue. Good vibes sending your way, Phil. 🐶

    • Larry says:

      How can your sons not sense that something is wrong between you and your wife?! How long does your wife want to carry on acting out the impression that everything is fine between you two when in fact she can’t stand being with you!? The pretending going on between you and her in your home over Thanksgiving festivities with your out-of-the-loop adult children seems completely nuts to me. The only way that the pretending makes sense to me is that it buys you and your wife time to find the courage to end your relationship, or it buys you time to finally see the folly in your behaviours and you both repair your relationship. Until then the pretending strikes me as excruciatingly stressful for you. I would think it has to be for your wife as well.

      • Phil says:

        Larry, I told my wife not to expect me to take the initiative with moving towards divorce, it’s her idea, not something I favor. But she is forcing me to think about it, as my life right now is pretty miserable.
        In general, I’m the one who does fun things for us such as preparing tax returns and taking care of investment planning, etc., so getting started with divorce might be more my area. It’s just I don’t really want to do it. But I do have a time frame in mind now as to when it should be done if there’s no improvement. By May or June of next year.
        Why our sons don’t notice anything? I don’t know. We’ve mostly never argued or fought in from of them now or in the past. They probably just assume everything is fine and dandy, without anything really negative coming to their attention.
        When they get the news, it’s going to be pretty devastating I think, with permanent repercussions.

        • Larry says:

          I tend to think that if the only reason you don’t tell your sons now is that you don’t want to ruin this Thanksgiving and Christmas for them, then if or when they do find out, in the weeks ahead, that you both have known for months that your wife seriously wants to end your marriage…it may shatter any happy memories they may have formed of this Thanksgiving and Christmas, or worse…might cause even deeper disillusionment that the Thanksgiving and Christmas togetherness was all a facade. But I don’t have kids, so never had to weigh the pros and cons of trying to foster a far from the truth impression for them of their parents living together contentedly.

          • Phil says:

            Larry, the only reason I’m not telling our sons now what’s going on is that my wife requested that we wait. I still want to be considerate to her, I guess in the hope we can recover. Because we haven’t told our sons and my wife hasn’t told her family, with whom she is very close, it doesn’t quite seem real, as something that will happen.
            We have now had discussions on these issues apart from sessions, and that is an improvement, for whatever it’s worth. I’m been continuing to have big feelings around all of this, and can imagine my life in the future as being pretty deprived.
            If my wife makes us go through this I doubt I will want her as a friend anymore.

            • Larry says:

              Seems to me that a good thing coming out of your delay in telling anyone yet is that it gives you time to work through those horrible childhood feelings that are being stirred up and so you’ll be in a better place and make better decisions when eventually you resolve the unhealthy tension between you and your wife.

              • Phil says:

                Larry, at Thanksgiving I told four of my cousins about the impending divorce, when I saw them alone at breakfast. I found doing that satisfying, as I dislike maintaining this secret.
                I was surprised on the day of the holiday that I really wanted to go to the family gathering, and enjoyed it when we got there.
                I don’t know that the unhealthy tension, as you put it, is going to be resolved. When my sons are informed about this issue even more feelings are likely to be triggered, but I don’t think I’m about to work through the childhood feelings involved any time soon. I should probably watch more movies. I saw “Slumberland” with my son and it triggered massive feelings, which I let out when I was alone.

  11. Margaret says:

    it sounds like a like a very stressful, painful situation, which forces you too to pretend while you probably would not want to do so, isn’t it?
    I agree with Sylvia they are boud to notice something, at least your sons will.
    it seems kind of crazy from your wife to sleep in the basement, either she is indeed overhwhelmed by a huge old feeling and acting it out, or maybe there is someone else in her life she feels attracted to, who knows.
    I hate how it puts you in this extremely uncomfortable position,

    • Phil says:

      Margaret, no, I don’t like to pretend. I’d like it all out in the open. My older son is visiting from LA for Thanksgiving, I don’t want to ruin it for him or his brother, and girlfriends. I doubt they’ll notice anything, but if they say something, I may very well tell them. I think my wife is in an old feeling which I’ve triggered. It’s really sad for our relationship to be ending this way. After we’re all done, she seems to think we’ll remain good friends, and things will continue largely as before. I’m doubtful about that. I don’t think I’ll want to have much to do with her at that point.

      • Paul Garland says:

        Hi Phil, I so understand what you’re going through. It’s never exactly the same in each case but I can hear the alarm bells ringing.

        -” I think my wife is in an old feeling which I’ve triggered”-.
        Presumably you have shared some information with her about Primal? When I did this in very similar circumstances I was told I was ‘forcing my opinion’ – ‘Mansplaining’.
        Denial in some people is so complete you’d be forgiven for assuming they’re the ones who are normal.

        I remember in one of Art Janovs’ blog posts he commented on one of my replies: -“Paul, I always had to ‘get out’ for coffee”-.

        I think, actually, I FEEL the birth sequence is / as the most powerful driver of ‘endings’. We started merged mith Mom. Leaving her embrace whether we wanted to or not, was and remains so essential to life it is the single most powerful driver. It’s so obvious it’s like the elephant in the room. We act out either refusing to get out, making someone else get out, charging out in disgust (then having to return, tail between legs to collect our ‘stuff’), falling out, reaching out or failing to reach out, missing out, trying to get out to work at a job we hate etc etc. Whatever we do, in the end we have to depart and others will be the witnesses.

        A long dragged out separation is no more or less than a long dragged out birth. Take Care Phil and try not to overthink it. Try to find support and plan your exit.

  12. Margaret says:

    It seems hard to combine , still expecting to be friends and not even wanting to sleep in the same bed.
    that seems to not make sense somehow.

    • Phil says:

      She even suggested I still travel to Spain next summer. She thinks we can still celebrate holidays together as a family in the future. In my mind, none of that will be happening. I feel very sad for my sons, but I’ve done my best. I can’t fix it if she doesn’t want to. Believe it or not, we were looking at childhood pictures last night, with their girlfriends. So terrible, when we have the knowledge of what is about to happen. The feeling my wife is in overwhelms anything good she might remember which otherwise could help salvage our relationship.


  13. Margaret says:

    I do remember you saying you don’t want to use your kids in the struggle, which is good.
    but your wife puts you in a position that is damaging after a while, and I think in that situation it is the only option to talk with your sons in a very open way, just explaining them you would rather not have a divorce, and make up with your wife, but that that seems probably not possible, without putting the blame on her.
    just say you don’t see a solution at this point.
    maybe it would even help if they would talk openly with her, for her to see the situation from a different viewpoint, whoo knows.
    nothing wrong with that as that would not have been your initial goal.
    your son

    • Phil says:

      Good points Margaret. There isn’t going to be any ideal time to tell my sons, but I do want them to know, as it will effect them. My wife hasn’t told her family yet either, although I found out some of our friends here know. She’s probably afraid of her family’s reaction. Divorce doesn’t seem justified, and I have good relations with them. What I also think is she should pursue therapy herself, although I won’t suggest it, as it isn’t likely to be a helpful comment coming from me.


      • Phil says:

        One of the old feelings triggered goes like this: “it’s really bad, I need help, I feel stuck, I can’t do anything”.
        The only good solution is if my wife cooperates on trying to save our marriage, but she doesn’t want to, bad feelings are in the way.

  14. Margaret says:

    has she ever given a proper answer when you ask her what she wants or needs from you? what she wants you to do?
    I was very touched by what you once wrote to her.

    • Phil says:

      Margaret, she has a lot of complaints. Basically it comes down to needing me to be more responsive. But in her mind it’s too late, it can’t be fixed, and we can’t change. I have some complaints too, but there’s no use voicing them when she wants to divorce.

  15. Margaret says:

    maybe there will be a moment when it might be good to express your own complaints as well, just to get them off your chest.
    but of course that depends of the situation.
    What is the name of the puppy?

    • Phil says:

      The puppy’s name is Melo, my son named him after an NBA basketball player.
      I’m thinking now that our sons should be told what’s going on this weekend, maybe when we get back from Thanksgiving, even if it will kind of mess up Christmas, they need to know.

      • Leslie says:

        So sorry to hear all this Phil. You truly deserve so much more. Is your wife not just backing you into a corner to make it that you have to take the iniative and she can then blame you…
        None of it is how you want to model a relationship for your sons and they are definitely feeling it on some level. Such a huge waste of life and living – without any way to move forward if your wife refuses honest communication, therapeutic sessions for closure & good-bye etc.
        You have been so patient Phil.

        • Phil says:

          Leslie, we had some discussion about this today. I told my wife we should inform our sons this weekend while they are both still around. She requested we wait until January, not because it would ruin the holidays, which it will, but because of things they got going on and how it will negatively effect them. I don’t think there will be any good time to tell them, but they need to know. I agreed, however, to wait until then. When it comes down to it, she is good at making threats, but not following through. My patience is certainly wearing out. She doesn’t want to tell the most important people who would want to know. Our sons, and her family in Spain. I think it’s because no one will like it, or agree that it’s justified. Deep down I think she knows what she’s doing is wrong, but she’s triggered and can’t get through that. Phil

          • Daniel says:

            This reminds me of an old joke about the 96 year old couple who filed for divorce and when asked “why now?” answered, “we waited for the children to die”.

            But seriously, what do you (and her) imagine will happen if you told the children, and why do you think they will take it so hard? Or, perhaps this is a way of saying she is not sure separation is what she really wants.

          • Leslie says:

            I’m sorry for you to live with such horrid threats & emptiness Phil.
            Telling friends first and hoping the facade stays the same sounds cruel & delusional on her part – to me.

            • Paul Garland says:

              -“cruel & delusional on her part”-.
              Different types of personality / defenses end up with a version of:

              – Attack is the best form of defense- .

              If not attack then ‘Passive Aggression’ (is the best form of defense).
              My passive aggressive covert narc partner knew exactly what she was doing because she had the support of a selusional narc therapist who coached her into the world of behaviourism (always other peoples’).

              She also knew I was extremely vulnerable, how irritating for her. So irritating she had to make out I was ‘pretending to be vulnerable to manipulate everyone else.

              It’s taken me 12 years to be able to acknowledge ‘Paul Is Vulnerable’. Men are supposed to be invulnerable; so if you’re breaking down and crying then you’ve broken the golden rule haven’t you? Maybe (I speculate) some people are so envious of feeling people they despise them.

  16. Margaret says:

    today my brother and me went with our mom to the podiatrist
    she was very scared, had agreed to go with us there but at the very last moment she started to say no, while we were already there.
    the podologist is a very nice woman, and my brother also started to try and reassure mom, but I noticed it might not be enough so I moved around the chair and started talking in her ear as well to reassure her.
    it took a while, until my brother had the great idea to tell mom to start singing, and in the meantime he bent so much forward mom could not watch her feet and the treatment anymore.
    as long as we were singing, things went fairly well, just a few times when she felt some hurt she stopped singing and started screaming at the podologist to stop.
    but between me and my brother we managed every time to make her feel safe enough, while still saying us how scared she felt, to allow the treatment again while we kept singing songs with her.
    at some point she was so much into it she even indicated the rythm with one hand and gave some personal interpretations to the songs, which was great to watch.
    all her toes got done, and she even got a flu vaccination back in the nursing home as well, also while singing, with one big scream in the middle of the song…
    she is truly adorable, and it was great to work so well as a team of kindness with my brother…

    • Paul Garland says:

      Margaret, I can imagine this entirely in my mind and feelings as my Mom is in the same sistuation and loves to sing.

  17. Leslie says:

    Thank you for the great tips Margaret. Lovely to hear how singing which your mom loves, helps her cope with the hurts she has to endure…Glad too of the bonus with the time and connection with your brother.
    My mom is now 93 & although doing well we do notice some different more self absorbed, somewhat child like behaviours at times. Remembering to engage her in song when need be is appreciated.

  18. Guru says:

    “Or, perhaps this is a way of saying she is not sure separation is what she really wants.”
    I mentioned this to Phil several weeks ago myself. If she is financially capable of moving out on her own, yet is still staying home, it tells me she might simply be wanting to send a strong message of discontent which may still be worked out somehow.
    Such a scenario makes it extremely hard to decide whether to tell the kids anything, though, with such uncertainty. If things could be worked out eventually, there would be no point traumatizing the kids unnecessarily.

    Yes, this is the Superstar Guru still having loads of trouble posting comments.

    • Paul Garland says:

      salient points indeed. But the rot is set in when a family already keeps such pretenses that the most sensitive members either don’t detect it or are compelled to go along with the pretense.
      Who’s protecting who from who?

      This is how we make our kids into caretakers.


  19. Margaret says:

    I was starting to feel apprehensive about the upcoming xmas days, seemed I would be on my own, sister and friends busy with their extensive families, going to brother and girlfriend does not seem appealing after last visit, and spending the whole weekend on my own made me feel lonely already.
    so I started pondering what my options could be, and decided to post a message on the two What’s ap groups I am in from the volunteers, my colleagues, on the phone helpline.
    I told them I was considering doing an ‘open house’ with xmas, sunday or monday or both, where anybody would be welcome for a drink, a chat and a snack.
    to my pleasant surpriseds I got many reactions, all saying it was a great idea, some already saying they would come, one proposing to give me some help with the snacks.
    all those reactions already made me feel much better!
    so now I have to look in how I organize it practically.
    there might not be many participants, or maybe more than I expect, and I have to decide on the exact day and times.
    Also I did not plan to work much on snacks, thought of chips and crackers and so, and chocolates, and drinks.
    it is mostly the companionship and the conversations I will enjoy, and my empty house to have visitors who are also glad to come by.
    so we’ll see how it works out,

    • Phil says:

      That was a great idea!

    • Larry says:

      That’s great Margaret! I doubt I would be as courageous and resourceful in finding a way to be with people if I was otherwise going to end up being alone for Christmas.

    • Leslie says:

      Margaret – again you are such an inspiration! What a great way to take care of yourself and others with your priorities of companionship & connection.
      Keeping it simple with your snack menu also covers all bases with the essentials & I am sure more food & drinks to share will be brought.
      Add some music and you are all set for a festive and fun time!!
      Vrolijk Kerstfeest!!

  20. Margaret says:

    Thanks, yes , it seems to work out really well!
    reactions keep coming in and several people already promised to come.
    how are you doing?

    • Phil says:

      I seem to be adjusting to the necessity of divorce, but my wife is doing nothing to bring it about. I might have to push for it myself even though its’s her idea and feeling. That would start to happen after the holidays.

  21. Margaret says:

    i think you have also taken many initiatives to improve your own life, as participating actively in the Unitarian community, going to dance classes and events, etc.
    you are inspiring as to showing it remains possible to find even a partner again to me.

    I think you have to be careful not to let yourself be anipulated into actions you would rather not take.
    i hope you can keep focusing on what you feel and want and use that as your main guideline.
    specially with your kids I think openness and honesty are crucial, even when your wife tries to prevent that for her own self protective reasons.
    of course this is just my view from a far distance, but I know you mean well and deserve honesty and an open communication with your sons.

  22. Margaret says:

    vrolijk Kerstmis to you too!
    I also invited my usual driver from a volunteer taxi service who at a cheap rate trasports old or disabled people.
    to be honest he is a bit smelly but well, he was soo happy to get my invitation, so I am glad i told him.
    he would be delighted to come.
    I told him it is just drinks and nibbles, not really a party for many hours, more of a social gathering, I have not decided on putting music on, maybe softly…
    Will see how it goes, and mmm, hope I can also find diplomatic ways if a visitor tends to hang on longer than expected when I am out of energy and conversation..
    will just say so kind of then…

  23. Phil says:

    I went out to our local mall this evening to go Christmas shopping. Really to see any ideas for the difficult people on my list. I walked around in some stores and came away empty handed, but full of sad feelings. This is going to be the saddest Christmas ever, when it’s supposed to be a happy time of year. I was recalling shopping so many past years when my kids were little and more recent years, and everyone was always happy and had a good time on Christmas day. In my childhood there was always some happiness on Christmas despite whatever was going on, my father made sure of that.
    Today I came home with nothing but loads of tears.

    • Larry says:

      I’m sorry that the life you expected to have well into the future has taken such a sudden, unexpected turn and has become so broken. It doesn’t have to mean though that you will never know happiness again. I’m sad that for now it is such a very difficult, sad existence for you.

  24. Margaret says:

    I am reading a book, Animal heroes, about 100 different animals that really existed and have a special story.
    one of them is Coco, a young female gorilla, who was trained and studied by a psychologist since the seventies.
    she learned sign language and had more than thousand different signs and some she made up herself.
    she also wanted, and got a kitten which she loved and mothered but sadly enough the kitten got run over by a car which made Coco very sad.
    later on she got two new kittens and there seems to be a U-tube channel called Coco Flicks, or something very similar, with video tapes that are very endearing of Coco with her kittens.
    if anyone feels like checking this out, I would love to hear or ‘see’ more of it…
    probably uplifting for everyone, thinking of Otto, Sylvia and well, everyone…
    Christian the lion is also mentioned, Barry once referred to him in group, he got raised by two friends, then later on transferred to a wild park in Kenia, and some years later still ran up to his former human friends and gave them big lion hugs, the story keeps moving me to tears.
    Christian had already a family of himself there as well, lioness and cubs.
    some years still after that his former humans visited the wild park again, not expecting they would see Christian again, but hey, they were sitting at a table in their large tent, and who appeared?
    Christian, he entered the tent and wanted to try to climb on their laps…
    the love and trust that had grown between members of these two species, men and lion, are so touching, and carry so much beauty in them about how life can also be, apart from struggle or misery…

    • Sylvia says:

      Hi, Margaret. I will try to copy a you tube video of Koko’s kittens. There isn’t much speech, just the film of Koko interacting with the kittens from when they were small and when they are grown. It’s very sweet to see the care she has for them and how gentle she is. I hope some of the video is visible.

  25. Daniel says:

    In your spare time, I’m sure, you may have been wondering, what is the connection between urine and Capitalism.

    Well, it all starts with this straining-looking dude, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, or Vespasian for short.

    Although emanating from an unpromising background, due to a crisis in Rome this military man who had the loyalty of his troops became an emperor. As such, he had to begin his reign with a tax reform to fill the Roman coffers left dwindled by Nero’s crazy actions and his successors’ instability. One of his innovations was to tax the urine collected from the public latrines. Urine contains ammonia and was widely used in Rome for tanning leather, whitening laundry, or as a cleaning agent, and taxing it made some sense.

    Sense or not, the tax was not popular among those who needed it for work, and even Titus, Vespasianus’ son, complained it was disgusting. Vespasian, a bit more practical, took a gold coin, handed it to Titus, and asked if the coin’s smell disgusted him. When Titus said that it does not Vespasian said, “and yet it comes from urine”.

    This is the origin of the most capitalistic saying of them all: “Money does not stink” (in the original Latin: pecunia non olet), or as later expanded by Karl Marx:

    “since every commodity disappears when it becomes money it is impossible to tell from the money itself how it got into the hands of its possessor, or what article has been changed into it. ‘Non olet’, from whatever source it may come.”

    To this day, in parts of the French speaking world public urinals are called “Vespasienne”. Here are one in Paris, France and a bigger one in Montreal, Canada (converted to an ice cream parlour)

  26. Daniel says:

    I’d like to add that in Jewish texts Vespasian and his son Titus are considered to have been two of the most bitter enemies Jews ever had.

    In his later military career Vespasian was recruited back into the military and was sent to crush the Great Jewish Revolt in Judea (the First Jewish-Roman War). By then, the army of Cestius Gallus, governor of Syria, was defeated by the Jews, the Roman legions were expelled from the region, and in Jerusalem an independent Jewish government was once again erected and even minted coins bearing the writing “Holly Jerusalem”.

    Vespasian and his son Titus arrived in the spring of 67 and within a few years reconquered Judea. Vespasian laid siege to Jerusalem, and after leaving for Rome to become emperor his son finished the job. The destruction was unimaginable. Jerusalem and the Galilee were in ruins, including a massive deforestation all around Jerusalem, the second Temple which was the centre of Jewish spiritual and political life was razed, 600,000 to 1,000,000 Jews were killed, captured, deported, or sold to slavery, and another Jewish independent entity would not rise until the 20th century. Along with the Holocaust, it was the greatest disaster ever to befall the Jews.

    The Romans celebrated their victory also by minting a series of coins called Judaea Capta. Vespasian’s portrait is on the front of the coin, while the reverse has an image depicting a grieving, defeated woman (Judaea).

    Note: All this is of course another proof that the Jews are a colonial power in Israel and that the land has always been Arab and Muslim.

    • Barry M says:

      Your country has an amazing thousands of years history, whilst my (albeit fairly newly adopted) country is merely about 150 years young. There are some similarities though, n’est-ce pas? We, (Euros in our case) showed up, took over from the locals, assigned them lands that we didn’t want at the time, and then occasionally give them recompense when they complained loudly enough. (Squeaky wheel and all that)
      To the victors go the spoils?? Maybe. But what goes around comes around etc.
      Israel is paying for it as is Canada, and I don’t feel proud of it, but I am living it as a beneficiary, and think denial is the easiest way to continue.
      I admire your knowledge and interest in your history.
      Quick question. Is Charlton Heston Israel’s favorite actor? Canada’s is Sylvester Stallone – he filmed Rambo just down the street from us!
      Quick question #2 Can you still buy those coins from the Franklin Mint? 🙂

      • Guru says:

        Barry, you said in your post that ‘To the victors go the spoils?? Maybe. But what goes around comes around etc.
        Israel is paying for it as is Canada…’

        I don’t think you saw that Daniel was being sarcastic when he said, “All this is of course another proof that the Jews are a colonial power in Israel and that the land has always been Arab and Muslim”

        In Israel’s case, why would (or maybe even ‘should’) there be any Karmic retribution if the Jews are simply taking back lands taken away from then from ancient times?

        Also, I have some questions about how many square miles of land (eg. population density per capita) should natives be entitled to? Both in America and Canada there’s been significant outcry that Europeans settled and took the North American lands away from native populations, yet what hardly anyone talks about is how densely packed the land space has been for Europeans vs. how sparse and open the lands had been for natives.

        The natives easily had 10-20 times the land space per capita to roam around in vs. the Europeans. How much should they be entitled to? Would it have been appropriate for Europeans to continue living 10-20 times as tightly squeezed per capita as the natives? I have some doubts on this one.

        • Guru says:

          I’d have to do some more research on early N. American population figures vs. Europeans dating back to the Renaissance era, but I suspect my original figures of Euros being 10-20 times as densely squeezed for land space compared to early North Americans to be very conservative. It wouldn’t surprise me for the actual ratio of land space disparity to be as high as 50 or 100-1, maybe more.

  27. Guru says:

    Daniel, I’m sure I’m not the only one who appreciated the historical value of your posts, even though no one else is saying anything. I had quite a few takeaways from your passages, one of which led me to personally confirm that Titus was viewed as a benevolent ruler favored by Roman citizens. If I had been a Judaean at the time such knowledge of so many citizens adoring Titus would start to drive me mad, such is the havoc narcissists often wreak upon those they do not favor or are standing in the way of their personal goals.

    Here’s a primer on narcissism as supplemental material. Again, there are plenty of other potential topical takeaways from Daniel’s posts, of which narcissism is only one. The fact that Titus would have been easy to spot as a narcissist would have been the frailest of silver linings for the Judaeans, I suppose:

  28. Renee says:

    “All this is of course another proof that the Jews are a colonial power in Israel and that the land has always been Arab and Muslim” ……..let’s unpack this sarcastic comment.

    It seems that you are trying (still!) to convince us that Israel/Palestine has always been a Jewish land. However, what you wrote misses something critical……. context. Firstly, did you know that since Jerusalem was established, around 4000 BC, it has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times and destroyed twice? The Roman period, that you describe, was only from around 37-94 AD. That’s it! And secondly, from what you write, it would be easy to assume that there were no other local populations in that region besides the Jews. That’s simply not true. There were always many local indigenous peoples living there besides Jews, including Arabs, Druze, Phoenicians and Circassians. And all of them living peacefully together as well! For literally thousands of years!

    While Israel is not a colonial power, it could not have existed, nor continue to exist. without the involvement of colonizers. As you might already know it is not uncommon for such powers to pit local populations against each other, a great distraction from the real aggressor. Here’s how the British did it: (How Britain Started the Arab-Israeli Conflict). And let’s not forget that the US gives Israel $3.8 billion a year to continue the colonization, dehumanization, killing of civilians with impunity, and land grabbing. It is simply beyond me how any Jewish person, with an intergenerational history of being dehumanized, killed and having homes taken, can support this.

  29. cody ottogian says:

    SAD, SO SAD. i got enough of it for everyone. mommy disappeared before 1st christmas. hard to believe. just fucking unbelievable. then life was up and down from there. i heard a song that kinda referenced that scene, yesterday, can’t remember which one. oh yeah bowie, a deep opening in space/time via libra/scorpio energy, of beauty, music, knowledge from the tree of life bursting through my body and head., yesterday and today. I had some deep thoughts but i forgot them now. i like it like that. Even I can sing that. Not sure why it is so sad for me. Still the same, I guess. Finally my old brain had the thought that I could use my iphone and my car radio and youtube to play the music that brought me to tears. Finally, my primal box 2022. Will I use it, now that I have 3 years of backed-up feelings? Probably not. Or more like a lifetime of them. Near end of life. Who goes first, me or scampi the aging cat who comes to me in bed, wanting to crawl under the covers with me.He loves to go outside to eat kibble from the wild cats’ metal bowl. I have to watch him like a hawk so he doesn’t walk away. We went to see the kid and his kids in pedro. Eventually we left the boring park to go to the less boring one. Beautiful coldish day with sun. Barb wanted to ride with the kids so I got to drive by myself and listen to music. The heavens opened up. Tears, but I still kept them in although I was thrilled that I had a new tool. Some bowie song with a line like crawling into the shadows. The 8 year old boy shows little promise of avoiding inheriting a lot of the 70 years of my and barb’s pain, and pain from son’s wife, inherited from her parents. The little girl seems a bit happier but maybe it is just people-pleasing. Nothing I can help with. too little, to late. my life is insane work, catbox-cleaning, and cat enema-ing.

  30. cody ottogian says:

    golden years. pretty powerful.

  31. cody ottogian says:

    ouch. they are moderating my post? oh well. i guess i will take out the #&%@$#%$ings if they dont approve.

  32. cody ottogian says:

    do i want a baked potato? no i just want to listen to music. how do i pay for my groceries? american express, if you haven’t driven it into the ground. are we there yet? hmmm i wonder why my feelings keep getting shoved down for the last 50 years. oh yeah, it’s just me go watch some drivel on tv. what a disappointment that cecily strong has left snl. she is about the only good thing snl still had. i cant believe they don’t fire the writers

  33. cody ottogian says:

    and 10 years later…it is way worse now?

    Carly Rose Sonenclar vs. Beatrice Miller – Pumped Up Kicks (The X-Factor USA 2012)

    anyway all i needed to have tears was a news clip showing the poor people at the border, hoping to get into usa. I CANT WATCH THE UKRAINE STUFF. PUTIN IS THE KID WITH THE GUN

  34. Daniel says:

    I think both Titus and his father, Vespasian, were considered to be pretty good emperors for Rome. The Jews were just a side issue for them. However, the Romans did celebrate their victory over the Jews very publicly, including the Arch of Titus in Rome, showing the “spoils of Jerusalem” which include three items from the Holy Temple. I wanted to write a bit about the debate within Judaism over the great deportations (the first by the Babylonians and the second by the Romans), their causes, and what to do about them, but it’s kind of late now so I’ll save it for a later date.

    Israel sure has its problems and the conflict there is far from over. Everybody is “paying for it”, as you say. Did you mean Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments and Ben Hur? Not sure anybody under 50 still knows who he was. (I do hope you have a Vespa parked outside next to your Jag)

    You are making a strawman argument, first ascribing me a stance I never had, even insisting I always held it (“Still!”), and then proceeding to attack and argue against that distorted stance. Can you point me to even a single instance on the blog where I tried “to convince [you] that Israel/Palestine has always been a Jewish land”?

    My point was, and is, that Jews had always a strong and continuous religious, national, historical, and emotional attachment to this land, and therefore their return in the 20th century to what they called the land of Israel was not colonial in nature. They were not colonials the way Belgians were in Congo, the English in India, or the French in Haiti – all colonial powers who had nothing with the conquered lands other than power, glory, and money (goods).

    To be sure, let me say again: the fact that Jews have a strong attachment to this piece of land DOES NOT mean that the Palestinians do not have an attachment of their own to that same piece of land. They do, hence the difficulties.

    But, on a positive note, I think you have softened your own traditional stance a bit by stating – I think for the first time – that “Israel is not a colonial power”. Good for you.

    It’s not really part of the point I wanted to make (which was about Jews as a colonialists), but the historical survey you wrote -especially the demographic makeup of the ancient land of Israel-is not based on known facts. By “known” I mean known from archaeology and ancient texts. As for the demonisation of Israel and the US – we’ve been there already so I will not repeat my arguments.

    • Paul Garland says:

      Don’t forget the railways and roads, the Brits built much of their Empires’ infastructure; much like Rome. . . Oh dear, I’m having a Life of Brian moment. . !

  35. Barry M says:

    Daniel, an informative and thought provoking post, as always.

    No, don’t have a Vespa in the driveway yet, but did ask Santa for one, so probably will have in a week or so. I’ve actually been waiting for Titus to put his on e-bay – could maybe pick it up for Judaea Capta or two. Problem is even if I did have one, it and the Jag would both be under a foot and a half of new snow that we woke up to this morning. Can’t drive either of them anywhere!

    Yes, I was referring to Chuck when he parted the Red Sea. You’re right about the under 50s not knowing him, but I don’t think that’s an issue with us Primal Blog readers. My Dad actually met him once, he was doing a commercial for the company my dad worked for. Dad wasn’t impressed with his personality nor with his presidency of the NRA.

    Quick question #3 Are you sure that grieving, defeated woman on the back of the Capta is Judaea? She bears a striking resemblance to Renee.

  36. Guru says:

    Renee? Can I ask you something here please? I’m really curious for an honest answer on a feeling level. Does what Barry wrote in his last sentence about the crying Judaea woman resembling you hurt or bother you on a feeling level? Or do you simply shrug, brush it off thinking, “Who cares what Barry thinks?”

    This question is important to me because, although I can understand you and Daniel periodically swiping each other with scathing one-liners given the lengthy debates you’ve had with him, I don’t remember any particular point where you’ve personally thrown barbs at your own at Barry who is more of an uninvolved third party to your debates.

    So in summary, are barbs thrown at you from someone you don’t have a personal history with more emotionally affective to you than from someone you do have a history with, such as with Daniel? Or am I mistaking you as someone way too sensitive when you actually have a skin as thick as a turtle’s, able to withstand the deepest of critical cuts?

    • Guru says:

      I also understand my innocent questions can be cynically exploited by someone who doesn’t feel any hurt at all deceptively saying it DOES hurt so as to engender feelings of sorrow and pity from others, but in any case I’m just hoping for the best here with a simple, straightforward answer.

  37. Phil says:

    To have Christmas coming and to pretend things are fine with our sons coming, is very triggering. In my childhood my mother was around one last Christmas when she seemed already half dead. Her personality was dead and she was dead to me, someone to avoid. I’m having a really hard time, this better be over soon. Not just Christmas, everything.

  38. Margaret says:

    Phil do you Think it would be Better to just Tell them? Christmas or not?

    Margot Meys

  39. Margaret says:

    Phil do you Think it would be Better to just Tell them? Christmas or not?


  40. Phil says:

    Margaret, for me it would be better to just tell them already, to get it over with and move along with what seems to be happening. But I agreed not to until January, which will be real soon. Them knowing isn’t going to fix anything, but I would like it to be out in the open. I think our situation is terminal, no signs otherwise.

  41. Larry says:

    I feel that Christmas is about nostalgia for the family togetherness and childhood joy of Christmases past, about trying our best to be warm and caring toward people, or at least about trying to be more generous and tolerant of them during the Christmas season. Maybe if you and your wife can enjoy time with the others in the house on Christmas day but mostly avoid each other it would be easier for you to get through the day, Phil.

    • Phil says:

      Larry, “Nostalgia for the family togetherness and childhood joy of Christmases past”.
      It looks like our happy family will be torn apart very soon. I have a lot of days to try to get through.

  42. Margaret says:

    won’t your kids be back in their own places in January?
    it does not seem the best ooption if you would have to tell them over the phone or skype when you have the with you on xmas.
    I think it would be completely acceptable if you would let your wife know you changed your mind and feel like telling them when they are there with you, and with each other .
    I hope you feel free to just do what feels best for you, and for them.

  43. Daniel says:

    Funny, Barry.
    Actually, I think that between the lines, yours as well as Guru’s, hides a very good question, one which also connects to what I had in mind when I mentioned in an earlier comment that I wanted to write about “the debate within Judaism over the great deportations (the first by the Babylonians and the second by the Romans), their causes, and what to do about them”.

    The question is, how much should Jews allow and be allowed to protect themselves? Or, put differently, what weapons Jews have or should have (humour, art, wits, financial success, laying low, praying, trying to assimilate, paying special taxes, as in the diaspora, or guns?). And since state-power is the ultimate weapon for any nation, the question extends to whether Jews should have a state of their own.

    Reneé’s answer to these questions is Nil, None, and No. It seems to me she prefers being the Capta.

  44. Barry M says:

    So Renee,


  45. Guru says:

    I made every effort to be kind, polite, and respectful almost to the point of obsequiousness when I asked Renee for an answer to my question. Since she has not responded to me, why would she logically want to respond to someone who potentially threw an insulting barb at her with a simple assuming ‘wassup’?
    When I see this tactic in motion, I see a free shot at an extra boost of ego power and control over both myself and Renee (assuming Renee responds) and if she doesn’t, nothing was lost on Barry’s part anyway.
    A brilliantly simple tactic, but one I must call out at least a little bit for my own sake.

    • Guru says:

      Renee might just as well be laughing her ass off at the three of us, anyway, enjoying how powerfully her silence has elicited so much amusing information from us over time. Since I made the points I needed to make, I’ll just go ahead and retire for the hills. Adios.

      • Renee says:

        No, Ugg, I haven’t been laughing my ass off. Just really busy with work as I’m on vacation next week.

        You asked about my reaction to Barry’s comment. I thought it was mean-spirited and cruel. And yes, it did hurt. It reminded me of how my older brother used to antagonize, torment and bully me. It brought back memories of how it didn’t matter how I reacted, if I got angry, ran away, cried, hid, tried to get help, nothing changed. The only thing that occasionally and temporarily worked was to kick my brother really hard in the balls. It worked because he would have to shift his energy to managing his physical pain. Sometimes my other siblings joined him, and it became a gang-up. My home wasn’t a safe place for me. I had a good relationship with my father, but he wasn’t really involved in the parenting. My mother felt overwhelmed by what she called “sibling rivalry” and, due to her own traumas, couldn’t provide any emotional support and didn’t like me needing this from her. My hope is that one day, this stuff won’t trigger me, because there will be no ammunition/old pain.

        Another part of me, the adult part, felt sad for Barry. I think that he must have experienced some kind of bullying in his life in order to bully now. Only people who have been hurt, need to hurt others.

        Finally, Ugg, I’m wondering if one your reasons for asking about my reactions to Barry has to with the fact that I think, if I remember correctly, a few years ago you were the target of Barry’s words that I think hurt you too. And I think you appreciated that I named it for what it was……cruel and mean-spirited. Do you remember?

        • Guru says:

          Renee, I wrote out a long post sharing my motivations behind why I asked if you were hurt by Barry’s comment (it’s a pretty surprising answer with Barry being only a secondary factor).
          Unfortunately my entire comment was placed in WordPress moderation, and I didn’t have the foresight to copy/paste it before I closed my browser, so the entire wall of text was lost and I might have to start from scratch again. Very frustrating. I’ll try to work this out again as soon as I can.

          • Guru says:

            Just a bit more of a technical note why my post went into moderation. I changed my name from ‘Guru’ to ‘Superstar Guru’ for fun and it likely failed a string variable check against my previously used name tethered to the email I use. If I had known that was going to happen, I would have certainly avoided changing my name due to the wasted writing effort.
            None of the content I wrote in my moderated post was controversial, just technical stuff.

  46. Margaret says:

    it is on the news here large part of the States has to prepare for extreme cold and strong winds.
    by now 5300 flights have been canceled.
    take good care all of you, and I hope you can see your loved ones.

    and by the way, I do not like someone is talked about without being present, not in group or not here, specially if it is in a critical way.

    • Phil says:

      We had a lot of wind and rain here last night, but it was warm. Many people lost power, as did our office at work. Temperatures are supposed to drop later on today. If it gets cold enough I’ll make a fire for Christmas, not to burn down the house, in the fireplace.

    • Guru says:

      Margaret, two nights ago (last Thursday) the local temperature reached a low of 10 F below zero (-10 F or minus 23 celsius) with wind chills of -30 F or minus 34 celsius).
      By this coming Thursday the weather is predicted to climb back to 58-60 degrees again (plus 16 celsius). An enormous and rather alarming weather change in just one week. A 40 degree celsius swing in one week even without wind chills factored in.
      My dad used to tell me how weather fluctuations would wreak havoc on his osteoporosis. I can’t say I disagree with him and I’m expecting to feel some pretty strange background nausea from the sudden weather shifts myself next week.

      • Margaret says:

        that sounds awful.
        i hate the cold!! can’t imagine such low temperature, when it gets about freezing temperature it feels kind of scary already, and even in summer I always take warm cloths with me just in case, don’t like AC either.
        i do like langlauf (cross country skiing) in the snow though, but well, that keeps me warm…
        so take care and make sure you can keep your place warm!

        • Guru says:

          Hey Margaret, I was wondering, did you successfully fix your furnace earlier this year? I suspect you did or otherwise you’d be freezing now yourself. There were big worries all over Europe earlier this year about natural gas supplies and costs since Russian gas could no longer be bought due to Ukraine.

          Doesn’t seem like you’re complaining so maybe I already answered my own question.

  47. Margaret says:

    I think it was nice that you adressed Renee, whether she read it or not we don’t really know, but there is nothing wrong with what you wrote in my perception, on the contrary I would say.

  48. Phil says:

    I had big feelings last night about my sister which seemed to come out of no where. The truth is she was almost a parental figure for me, but the problem was she was often not around, and I don’t think really want such a role. My father wasn’t really helpful or even safe. I made a mistake in not trying harder to keep good relations with my her, or any relations at all.

    • Phil says:

      I need to proof read before I post. In the second sentence: “I don’t think really (wanted) such a role.” Last sentence: “good relations with my (sister).

  49. Paul Garland says:

    The night is cold
    wet and lonely.

    Old men shuffle,
    sleet slips
    feet print holy.

    Then quiet as snow falls.
    Streetlights !
    Shaddows !
    Foxes call.

    Go home,
    light a fire,
    it’s dark outside,
    it’s the Christams hour.

  50. Guru says:

    Renee, OK let’s give this another try. I will keep it as concise as I possibly can. Although I do remember the occurrence from a few years ago with Barry including your adjectives of ‘cruel and mean-spirited’, his barb thrown at you wasn’t the main reason I stepped into the fray.
    Sometimes I have an urge to be a ‘protective white knight’ if I perceive a possible fragile situation with a ‘damsel in distress’ being attacked. Now, why would I perceive you as such? Based on what I’ve known of you both here on the blog during the past decade and personally meeting you a few times a long time ago, you seem to have a tendency to storm away intensely angry or disgusted from the scene of being either dogpiled by a group or seriously slighted by someone. When you do leave the scene, you seem to be VERY serious about staying away for a LONG time, with multiple years of absence not being out of the question.
    When you shared your story about your brothers dogpiling you, it confirmed my instinct the moment when Barry made his remark that a seriously fragile situation has now developed with potentially drastic consequences of your leaving the blog for a long time. The blog (your symbolic home) being unsafe with your two symbolic brothers (Daniel and Barry) dogpiling you, so why not run away?
    I briefly considered responding to Barry asking him to stop this, but I realized Barry has been quiet towards me lately and an ‘uneasy truce’ of sorts seems to have developed between him and I that way, so why poke the bear and unnecessarily sink myself into a potentially deeper conflict with him? My best option past that was simply asking you ‘are you hurt?’ so you would have at least one symbolically protective brother counterbalancing the two dogpilers.
    Do note my ‘protective white knight’ stance also kicked in when you gave your feedback to Gretchen by surprise some weeks ago. I perceived your feedback as an indirect attack on her by you for a pseudo-mysterious reason, possibly a sensitive incident from long ago. At that time I was actually trying to protect Gretchen from you, so my knighthood is indiscriminate as long as I have at least some affinity towards the target.
    There! All done!

    • Daniel says:

      Guru, I can relate to your ‘damsel in distress’ attraction, having been attracted to a few in my life. It’s very powerful.

      Although at times I certainly was pissed off with Renée, I do not consider myself ever to be dogpiling or ganging up on her.

      Having written this sensitive and careful comment, and having known Renée in person, let me ask you the following. If you wanted to help Renée deal with those ganging-up situations that she has experienced on- and offline, and you wanted that help to be of the kind that would teach her to fish so she may be fed for a lifetime, rather than give her a fish and feed her for the day – what would that help look like?

      • Guru says:

        Daniel, I think your question might be a little too far reaching for me. I can’t customize deep, long term coping skills to help keep those teetering on the precipice of drastic negative consequences from falling into the abyss continuously. I can only try to apply a personal band-aid to the situation and step back from there. I’m just a voluntary emergency dialogue services technician, and not a paid professional life skills coach trained in developing long term coping strategies.
        I perceived Gretchen being in a more vulnerable area since the Institute appears not as strong to repel attackers compared to decades past, especially with the patient population having shrunk over time and with Art & Vivian’s passing. All I could do there was point out to Renee that more might be taking place behind the scenes than we can appreciate with our limited knowledge.
        All I was trying to do was keep the blog more vibrant and varied with Renee coming back more often.

        Technically I made a mistake saying ‘two dogpilers’ in my earlier post. I realize you were not actively trying to form a gang with Barry, but I wanted to nip any problems in the bud once Barry started joining in.

  51. Renee says:

    Ugg, thanks for sharing that you see me as a “damsel in distress”. Now I get your intense interest in me, what could be going on with me, wanting to protect me, trying to figure out how to help me, and wanting to keep me on the blog. Just to give you a reality check, I don’t see myself as being on the blog or off the blog. Sometimes I find the blog interesting, sometimes not so much. I write when I feel like it or not at all. That’s it.

    Daniel, Ugg seeing me as a “damsel in distress” is his feeling/narrative/interpretation. It is not a fact, as you suggest. I think both of you have recruited me for a role I didn’t audition for! I think your question for Ugg comes from a belief that I need to be rescued (I don’t), but just need to be approached in specific way! I think a better question would be, “of all the interpretations you could have come up with about Renee, how did you come up with that one?”

    Here’s is my perspective……I think some people get thrown off when I get triggered because of the intensity of my feelings and past traumas. My freeze, fight and/or flight reactions can happen very quickly, even for me. Add to that the accompanying feeling that “no-one cares”, which was my reality as a child, and it becomes impossible for me to let people know what is actually going with me in a way that makes sense. This can leave some people feeling frustrated and the “no-one cares” feeling seems to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. For other people, when I’m not able to express what is going in with me in a way that makes sense, they fill it in with their own associations and projections. Like I’m a “damsel in distress”.

    • Guru says:

      Renee, what would you have done if I had *not* stepped in and asked if you were hurt, to where I said absolutely nothing at all? Would you have just quietly walked away and let Barry’s comment stand on its own while the rest of us quietly acquiesced to it as well?

      • Renee says:

        If you hadn’t stepped in, Ugg, life would have just gone on. Sadly, the catastrophic loss of a “damsel on distress” that you are afraid of happening and are desperately trying to avert, has already happened for you. I’m really sorry. I wish there was a way to go back and change the past.

    • Daniel says:

      Renée, it goes without saying that ‘damsel in distress’ is in the eye of the beholder, so I never took this description as a fact about you, just a fact about Guru’s feelings with which I identified in a general sense, not relating personally to you. So I never felt you need ‘saving’.

      But I think we all agree that distress is there, which is what Guru responded to with his wish to come to your aid. It is that distress, touchingly described by you, to which I aimed my question, and I still think it’s a valid one.

      • Guru says:

        Renee, I have to agree with Daniel’s second paragraph here. I was a bit surprised you didn’t react to Barry if you were really hurt by him, especially considering this is a Primal therapy blog and you’ve been in therapy for a very long time. You’re among the hardiest of hardened therapeutic veterans. Wouldn’t self-suppression be against the basic tenets of therapy itself? Maybe you have some strong reasons for not reacting that I don’t understand or know about, so I try to refrain from judging this too much.

        It’s also interesting you leaped to my ‘rescue’ as a ‘dude in distress(?)’ a few years ago with Barry even though I personally did nothing at first before you pointed it out. It’s as though we both felt disturbed *for* the other person, but not ourselves even though both instances were self-confirmed upon being prompted by the other.

        Thanks for empathizing about my mother, though I’m not sure what to immediately say beyond that.

        • Guru says:

          Despite my agreeing with Daniel more often than Renee in their geopolitical debates, maybe my fondness for Renee grew when she ‘rescued’ me a few years ago and I jumped at the chance to ‘rescue’ her back, haha. I sheepishly admit I am an easy mark for women paying attention to me, rescuing me, or caring for me even to a slight degree. My heart will start to melt into a puddle like a lost, forlorn stray dog’s, hah. I could easily be stabbed in the heart by this with the ever-present threat of permanent existential despair I would never recover from, which is worrisome all its own.

          This wasn’t easy for me to write out and it hurts to say it for sure.

          • Larry says:

            Good for you for taking the risk to write it, Guru.

          • Daniel says:

            In the movie Pretty Woman Vivian tells Lewis about her dream of having a knight rescue her:

            In the end of the movie, Lewis overcomes his phobia and climbs the back stairs of Vivian’s apartment, moments before she is leaving for good. When he reaches her he askes, “what happens after he rescues her?”, to which Vivian gives the perfect reply:

            • Guru says:

              Daniel, I was really young when that movie came out and remembered thinking to myself, “Oh man, a romantic chick flick, too corny for me, skip it.” So I never watched the film despite its iconic status. I did spend some time playing Chris de Burgh’s “Lady in Red” and Shriekback’s “Faded Flowers” prowling around my grandma’s retirement haunt and into the city, beginning to grow desperate for some real personal answers to why everything in my life felt so terribly wrong even though everything around me was semi-affluent.

              Janov once wrote we tend to ‘fall in love’ with what we need (emotionally) and not necessarily the person spontaneously providing the need. It certainly can play serious tricks in peoples’ minds who might already be struggling with emotional vulnerabilities from the past.

            • Sylvia says:

              My oldest brother and I as kids were prone to watch those B movies where nice aliens would come down to earth, (way before the movies of invading and warring menacing ones.) I think we thought aliens would recue us from our chaotic family or at least help us in some way. Later on, my brother found a different sort of savior after going to a Billy Graham revival and being symbolically saved. He became super religious thereafter.

              • Guru says:

                Sylvia, your brother’s story reminded me of another serious crisis I ran into early on when reading Janov’s books. My dad would tell me my mother was the smartest person he ever met, and she carried around a small white Bible in her purse at all times, even to business meetings and was still with her at her final crash site,
                Contrast that to Janov’s raw atheism even though his books were the only writings giving me faint inklings towards true self-understanding. Given the nonsensical way my mother died, the whole bit really threw me into a tailspin.

            • Renee says:

              Surprise, surprise….. this screenplay was written by a man.

        • Renee says:

          Ugg, I really didn’t see the point of responding to Barry. For me, there is not just one way to deal with assholes, or any situation for that matter. I have learned that sometimes it is better not to engage, and to find other ways to deal with the feelings.

          While you might’ve felt that I rescued you from Barry’s asshole comments, which is fine with me, that was not my intention. At that time, I just felt that I needed to call out what I felt was happening.

      • Renee says:

        Daniel, this was your question to Ugg: “If you wanted to help Renée deal with those ganging-up situations that she has experienced on- and offline, and you wanted that help to be of the kind that would teach her to fish so she may be fed for a lifetime, rather than give her a fish and feed her for the day – what would that help look like?” This question is somehow valid and meaningful for you, not me. It assumes that you have the right question that will somehow save or fix me. It seems like you totally missed the point of what I wrote about some people making their own assumptions about what I’m needing when I can’t express myself clearly. Did you know that you can always just ask me directly what I’m needing if you want to help me? For some reason, your patronizing attitude toward me reminded me of this SNL skit: It still cracks me up! I hope you can see the connection.

        • Guru says:

          Renee, ever see the classic black and white yin-yang symbol with opposing halves swirled in a circle? Inside each half of the yin-yang symbol is a tiny dot of opposing color, representing a kernel of the opposing side within itself.
          My point being that you and Daniel have emotionally activated each others’ hateful nerves for so long that it must be love. They love to hate to love to hate to love to hate to love each other.

          • Renee says:

            Ugg, what you say is interesting. I wouldn’t characterize it as “love”, but it does seem like Daniel and I are stuck in a polarity. I was going to write about this but then I got distracted by this other stuff. Hopefully, I’ll get to it, perhaps later this week.

        • Daniel says:

          Congratulations, Renée, you have managed to turn an innocuous comment of mine into an accusatory comment of yours. All I’d like to say now – you’ll love tearing it to shreds – is, you don’t seem to want to know anything about yourself you don’t already know.

          • Renee says:

            Daniel, you come across as angry, hurt, sad and a bit of victim…… of my “tearing” your words to shreds. From my perspective, I actually don’t think you’re being fully honest. I don’t believe that your comment was “innocuous”. If you feel the need to take me on as a project in an attempt to rescue/fix/ change me, that’s one thing. But to try and draw Ugg into this act-out of yours…. well, that’s pretty fucked up! In my opinion.

            And just a reality check….I am always to wanting to know more about myself, whether or not I know it already, if it is presented with respect, humility, and kindness. Otherwise, it can come across as dumping, blaming, projecting, shaming etc., from someone who doesn’t know him/herself that well. Just a thought…..

  52. Guru says:

    Before anyone cultivates any mistaken ideas that I might be misogynistic because of the usage of the term ‘damsel in distress’, I looked at it as an amusingly outdated figure of speech. I voted for Hillary in 2016 and it wouldn’t bother me at all if all nine members of the Supreme Court were women. If only women ran the world, I would just say, “OK cool, whatever, something refreshingly different from the status quo for a while.”
    I felt concerned people might draw some bad conclusions, so I want to address this now before anyone complains, requiring that much more work to undo on my part.

    • Guru says:

      Let’s just stick with ‘voluntary emergency dialogue services technician’ so as to eliminate any misunderstandings. Thanks.

  53. Margaret says:

    how are you doing?
    did your kids manage to get to your house despite the bad weather conditions?

    • Phil says:

      Margaret, everyone made it here, and things are going OK. I don’t know if anyone senses things are very wrong, with my wife sleeping in the basement. But they don’t say anything. We’re pretending it’s normal holiday.

      • Guru says:

        Looks like 27 people died in the storm in western New York so far. Just being grateful everyone made it in one piece can help make life’s extra details more flavorful and meaningful, I would imagine.

  54. Margaret says:

    thanks Daniel!
    that sounds to me like a fine reply, for me completely ok, and I would be pleased if I could have come up with it as a copywriter.
    seems kind of balanced gender wise to me too, mutual giving and receiving on the same level, no?
    why do you say Renee it is clearly written by a male person?
    it could have been me theoretically!

    • Sylvia says:

      The link is different than the one Daniel showed. Thanks for asking the question because I wanted to know too. Here it is if it comes through.

      • Guru says:

        Well no wonder Daniel was posting the video from ‘Pretty Woman’. I swear I had never seen the movie my entire life, nor even knew of the parable of the knight. Yet I posted about Renee ‘rescuing’ me and I ‘rescued’ her back. I didn’t appreciate this strange coincidence enough.

    • Renee says:

      Margaret, I said that because the “damsel in distress” is a sexist stereotype that characterizes a woman who is struggling as helpless and powerless and in need of being rescued by a man. I think it’s a stereotype that men like to perpetuate because it reinforces the patriarchal view that men are superior to women and that women cannot take care of themselves. That’s why it didn’t surprise me that that the screenwriter for “Pretty Woman” was a man.

      • Sylvia says:

        I will definitely have to see this movie again. I remember the Hollywood shopping scene the best, I think it was on Rodeo Drive where the clerks looked down on Julia’s character and didn’t want her in their store.

        It is a little surprising that the original script was much darker, and that Julia’s character was not saved. She was addicted to drugs in the original screenplay. But when Disney bought the script and brought in Garry Marshal to direct, they lightened Julia’s character and gave it a happy ending. Here is the cast talking about it 25 yrs. after the movie.

        • Margaret says:

          how are you doing?
          anything special during these ‘festive’ days?
          I had to postpone my ‘open house’ as I was still feeling like having a light flu on that day.
          Probalbly two of my volunteer colleagues will come by in the hopefully nearby future anyway, they wrote me they wooould gladly do so.

          • Sylvia says:

            Hi, Margaret. I didn’t do much during the holiday other than watch after the cats. Sorry the flu caught up with you. It was evident in these parts too. My neighbor’s brothers both had it, and one had the co-vid. I’m staying home a lot to avoid these germs, though I did visit my neighbor friend to see her festive Christmas decorations and listen to the stereo she bought.

            I have the feral mama cat’s two five-month-old kittens in the house. At the 3-month stage I brought the sick one in who wasn’t eating and barely nursing. Thankfully he began to eat and was finally out of the cold. His brother spent another month with the mama until she weaned him and abandoned him with attacks if he came near. He plays well with his reunited brother, though they growled at each other the first week. I’m trying to trap the feral mama responsible for these litters. I missed two appointments already since the cat is wary of the cage where the food is placed (a little further in each day.) The vet assistants said just to let them know when I catch her, and they will fit her in for spaying. Fingers crossed.

            I don’t know if the Koko gorilla video was visible that I posted before but I will post another at the end here. It’s amazing how much our species are similar. This video has good narration unlike the other one. Hope this one comes through okay.

      • Margaret says:

        I think part of our views on this depend of the eye of the beholder and one’s own feelings in general, as always.
        in my view the movie conversation came more down to two people liking each other more and more, and one of them offering his support and the other trusting the offer as being genuine.
        that is the kind of saving I refer to that in that case can be reciprockal.
        I just had big worries about a trailer I promised to participate in for activating more women and girls, included disabled ones, to participate in doing sports, in my case for the shoot sailing , watersports.
        my problem was that my means of getting to the spot in february were insecure, I won’t go into the practical details.
        then a fellow sailor, by the way an attractive widower who is becoming a nice friend, let me know not to worry too much as in case I would by then not have found a way to get there he would find some kind of solution.
        I told him how good it made me feel not to be on my own with that problem anymore.
        and that is an example of the ‘saving’ for me, the relief of having some kind of companion to deal with some of the challenges life keeps throwing up.

        now that does not mean I don’t see a larger struggle for women as pointless at all, on the contrary.
        I myself have never felt less valid than a male, while on a dark empty street at night I still would feel less safe if running in a bunch of males then into a bunch of females, or even one single person.
        and even when trouble starts so far I stood my ground, was assaulted by a man twice and twice struggled/fought back and one time got away safely taking back the key out of the guy’s hand, luckily he was smaller and probably more insecure than me, and the oother time the assaulter ended up running away, and leaving what he had picked out of my poket on the window sill, probably as I did not give in to his demands foor money and made a lot of noise, middle of the night , silent street, right in front of my own door, me already blind with white cane, cursing at the guy and calling him a coward and pushing him away over and over.

        but a struggle really worthwhile, which I hope you can aim your force at, as I know you are strong and dedicated, is one like what happens now in Afghanistan.
        it is so terrible and unacceptable the Taliban now forbids girls and women to go to high school, university, or to work foor NGO’s
        you have all my sympathy when you can do anything at all to go against such injustice, they don’t even deserve the word ‘patriarchic’, it seems still too good for what it is, clear suppression oof women just to prevent them from having any power at all if possible.
        alsoo the religious dressing codes in Iran are bad, but Afghanistan right now seems the very worst of all on the suppressing females scale.
        go for it please!

        • Margaret says:

          Sorry for the typos and unwanted spelling corrections.
          it should say that my part in the promotion of sports is in disabled female sailing , or disabled sailing in general really.

        • Renee says:

          I agree with much of what you say here, Margaret. I would only add that I was not referring to the surface story of Pretty Woman, which I think you describe quite accurately. I was referring to an underlying, perhaps unconscious, message of the movie……the damsel in distress. Other messages in this movie that weren’t really challenged were the centering of white bodies, heterosexual bodies and able bodies. Could you imagine the movie being as successful at the box office if Richard Gere’s character had been played by a black man in a wheelchair and Julia Robert’s character had been played by an attractive Indian or Asian male prostitute? Just a thought. Connected to bias in Hollywood.

          I have a question about the “attractive widower” that you mentioned. Since your eyesight is so limited, how could you tell that he was attractive? Or were you referring to a mental attraction?

  55. Guru says:

    I’m by no means an evolutionary anthropologist, but I did want to mention a few items along those lines in regards to Renee’s comment that ‘damsel in distress is a stereotype that men like to perpetuate because it reinforces the patriarchal view that men are superior to women and that women cannot take care of themselves.’

    I think most of us can agree that if we look back to the early stages of human development, sheer raw strength and endurance was more highly valued than the intellectual demands of today. This was needed for hunting/gathering, subsistence farming, heavy blacksmithing, early forms of industry/artisanal fields, etc. Since most men’s bodies were stronger than women’s (of course will always be exceptions) along with the biological reality that only women could bear children, it only makes logical sense to me that the traditional roles of men going out to gather the material goodies while women stayed home to care for the children would become firmly entrenched. Such an arrangement was truly a matter of tribal survival as a whole.

    Sometimes I’m not so sure this is strictly patriarchal or a sense of ‘superiority’, but rooted in simple early biological reality that only the strong survive. Since money is a symbol for those material goodies that men once prowled the fields to gather, it seems the modern monetary system where men are more rewarded than women is an intellectual carryover, or outgrowth, of the early tribal arrangement necessary for survival. Andrew Yang made an extremely important note of how gross domestic product (GDP) doesn’t measure the value of domestic work, raising children, etc. since the monetary symbolic value was only attached to goods and services outside the household.

    I hope people don’t say, “Well DUH! Shouldn’t what Guru wrote above be obvious to everyone?” Even so, it’s good to write this out for its own sake, however elementary it may be.

    • Guru says:

      I should add one very important point to the above.
      It might be ask, “WHY wasn’t symbolic monetary value attached to a woman’s domestic work and caring for children while men’s goods and services away from home did have monetary value attached?”

      I think the general answer here lies with the insular nature of domestic household work itself. Such important services were not as easily traded with another household or tribe as would be basic foodstuffs, cattle, wine, wood, carpentry work, etc. that men would produce away from home.

      It was a fortunate happenstance for men that items and services men produced early on were more mobile and easily tradable outside the family than the more insular childcare and homemaking performed by women, hence the monetary symbolic value attached to men’s more tradeable products having various legacy impacts on today’s economy.

      OK, that’s a rough draft of what I’m seeing there.

      • Daniel says:

        In the case of domestic work, if for example two neighbors would do the domestic work of each other, paying each other the same amount of money, they would both be in the same place but both would be receiving pay and both would be included in GDP.

        • Guru says:

          Daniel, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. Sure there were plenty of ways stay-at-home moms could participate in the money economy. It’s just the variety of potential activities was narrower than for men (especially in distant past) since most women were already preoccupied with childcare/homemaking.

          Men just have had more of an opportunity to expose themselves to a wider variety of tradeable activities.

  56. Margaret says:

    I have always been against death penalty, as perpetrators usually are also victims, and theoretically could benefit from therapy…
    to my surprise, while reading a book from Kate Atkinson, a kind of literary thriller, in which one of the persons was a cold dad abusing his young daughters systematically, I suddenly became aware of how my standpoint seemed to have changed.
    people who torture animals, or other people for that matter, or keep abusing children and even babies, seem to be beyond proper repair somehow, in the current society anyway, a lifetime not being long enough to heal…
    in that case, to avoid more and more hurt both for victims and for the perpetrator who can’t be a happy person usually I guess, and should be isolated from any kind of opportunity to damage anyone, the kindest thing seems to be to end his or her life, not as a punishment but as the best solution.
    i don’t like it but what other options are there? t to keep someone locked up for the rest of his days?
    we have our own serial child molester and murderer over here, Marc Dutroux, who does not even seem to feel guilty even after decades of jail, and who theoretically could get out of prison again.
    he locked up young girls he had kidnapped in a specially constructed hidden basement, to abuse them again and again, ended up killing some of them while others starved whiile he was arrested for a while, as his female partner simply did not feel like going over to them to feed them…
    Two other young girls were rescued in time, or not really in time, after being abused many times already.
    does someone like that really deserve to be kept alive and looked after when he will remain a threat for the rest of his days?
    as he seems beyond repair and inflicted so incredibly much hurt and pain, not only for the victims but also for their families,I discover now I find a humane death penalty, like how they put animals to sleep, seemingly preferably to allowing them at some point to enter society again.
    our lifetime sentence here is always limited to 2 or 3 decades, sometimes with added ‘supervision’ after they get released…
    reading that Kate Atkinson book, and being faced with a matter of fact picture of the damage inflicted, not written in any bloody or sensation seeking way really, made me feel surprised at my own feeling in some cases death penalty seemed like the best solution, like putting a dog with rabies down or something…
    I am curious as to how other people here feel about this topic…

    • Phil says:

      I’m against the death penalty, even in cases such as the one you described. I just don’t think governments should be handing out that kind of penalty, it’s barbaric. It’s a crime that governments would do such a thing.
      It’s also irreversible, and there are many cases where later evidence overturned a conviction, even after many years. These kinds of criminals can get life in prison as the most severe possible punishment, and in my mind it doesn’t matter whether therapy could help or not.

    • Guru says:

      Margaret, it looks like executions are almost completely banned in Europe except for a couple in Belarus. The US executed 18 people this year and 11 last year (maybe slightly incorrect).

      It’s a numbers game to me, Margaret. If the US is going to shrug its shoulders and say “Oh well, just a cost of doing business.” in the face of 40,000 automobile fatalities each year, why agonize so much over 20 or 30 people?

      The number is so much smaller than people getting killed ‘out in the free world’ you might as well just lock them up for life and extract as much useful psychological information as you can from the worst offenders for future studies.

      The millions spent on the prisoners’ boarding costs is a jobs program for prison employees, food service vendors, prison maintenance tech workers, prison uniform manufacturers and so on. The tax money spent would just slosh around various parties who benefit from the ‘prison economy’ anyway, effectively being taxed again for other uses.

      • Phil says:

        in this country capital punishment ends up costing more than life in prison.
        They are “punishment” as opposed to automobile fatalities, which are accidents.

        • Guru says:

          Phil, yes I remember Amnesty International holding a big campaign about the death penalty when I was in college. It was a big point for them to say executions cost more than life in prison. I was awestruck by such an amazing finding, not having the faintest idea I really shouldn’t have bothered spending much time personally on the issue.
          I just wanted to give Margaret a broad overview of my own personal opinion, which should be reassuring for you since I’m in agreement with you anyway.

          I don’t want to start a deeply complex ‘rabbit hole’ discussion on ‘punishment’ vs ‘accidents’ today. I’m trying to keep my mental energies light, energetic, and efficient for personal development in the current moment.

          • Phil says:

            the discussion doesn’t have to be a deeply complex rabbit hole. I guess for you what happened to your mother doesn’t really feel like an accident.

  57. Margaret says:

    thanks for the new Coco videoos , the oother ones were indeed hard to really watch for me, although some parts seemed easier to distinguish.
    isn’t Coco fascinating?

    • Sylvia says:

      Yes, I was amazed how she was able to learn sign language and also use the potty chair. She loved the hugs from her teacher/friend, Penny. I saw another video of a birthday she had, and she was eating her food with a spoon. Not sure what to think about that, but she was capable of so much.

  58. Margaret says:

    actually I agree with all your points as well.
    I guess what I felt while reading is that some people might be beyond ‘repair’, and to my own surprise part of me said ‘why bother?’ or something like ‘better end this one’s life as he is dangerous and too damaged’, but well, if you put it the way you put it I feel you are right as well…
    it is just some deliberate atrocities should by all means be made as impossible as possible so too say…

  59. Margaret says:

    I love and admire you for taking such good care of all those cats!
    they are lucky with you as their guaardian angel…
    very besst wishes for the new year!

    • Sylvia says:

      Thank you, Margaret, that is very kind of you. The cats teach me about patience and it’s fun to see their different personalities and to listen to what their needs are. They have helped me almost as much as I have helped them.

      I wish you as well, best wishes for the new year and much success with your sailing adventures!

  60. Margaret says:

    I have been sailing with him a lot every summer for a few years now, and have received and given a lot of hugs to him.
    so I have a good idea of his body, ha, muscular and fit, and checked with some girlfriend there what he looks like, which sounded ok as well.
    but the largest attraction is his character, strong but playful, and very caring and warm towards everyone, and seemingly even still a bit more affectionate towards me.
    he is ten years older than me, and it is not clear so far if it will or will not develop into more than friendship, I think we might make a good match but only of course if he would show me real interest in a possible relationship.
    otherwise it is still a nice developing friendship, playful and affectionate and even more delightful with all the sailing, a lovely sport.

    • Renee says:

      I am happy for you, Margaret! He sounds like a wonderful person. I like your strategy of getting to know him physically. If my eyesight should deteriorate significantly, I will use this same strategy. It’s very creative. 😃

      • Margaret says:

        it was not even my strategy, although the thought had crossed my mind.
        he started the hugging, and kept doing it a lot, very playfully and warm.
        and at some point I could just hum in an appreciating tone when for example my hand would rest on a nice firm breast muscle, haha!
        it was definitely flirting last summer, but did not go further before the sailing season ended.
        but I still keep some hope it might do so next spring when the sailing starts again…
        the nice thing is this already made me feel warm and appreciated and liked, which felt healing.

        • Renee says:

          Good stuff, Margaret! Thanks for expanding on this strategy. I like your humility in acknowledging that you didn’t initiate it….except in your mind!😉

  61. Phil says:

    I had more big feelings about my sister today, related to my situation here. During childhood my sister came and went, but I remember, in particular,a long absence overseas when I was 10. Our mother died while she was gone. I was left with my father who I’m sure was severely depressed, unhelpful, and in some ways abusive. My sister was full of life, doing things, with her future ahead of her, it was really bad to have her leave. My wife is leaving me, she contacted a lawyer, it seems 99.9% sure we’ll divorce. We have to separate, it’s very triggering for me, something like my mother ending our relationship, forgetting about me, ignoring me, a huge rejection which I don’t feel like I deserve. It feels like I’ll be left with nothing. Phil

    • Daniel says:

      That is a dreadful feeling, Phil. I’m sending you a virtual hug.

    • Renee says:

      This is so sad, Phil. It makes sense that all the old feelings you describe would come back full force. Another leaving and being left.

      For some reason, your post also reminded me of the two Chinese characters for the word “crisis”: danger and opportunity. I wonder if this fits for you or not.

      • Phil says:

        Renee, yes, crisis and opportunity, and maybe danger too. The danger being I could end up with nothing and no one. I’ll have to work hard so that doesn’t happen. I didn’t know you could read Chinese. Phil

        • Renee says:

          I cannot read Chinese, Phil. This Chinese characters for “crisis” is quite well known in the English speaking world. I know that remembering there is both danger and opportunity in a crisis, has helped me get through my own crises. That’s why I wondered if it might be able to help you too.

          • Phil says:

            Renee, OK, I looked it up. I haven’t decided on continuing with Spanish or not. I now will have an opportunity to start with new languages and the people who speak them.

            • Renee says:

              Phil, I hadn’t considered that the opportunity part of a crisis could involve learning a new language. But why not? I can speak a little Hebrew and a little Japanese, so if you choose one of those languages, I would be happy to practice with you. Por otro lado, si Ud. decide a continuar con Espanol, y necessita un “companero Espanol”, esta bién también. Aunque, yo recuerdo de retiros que su Espanol fue excellente. No estoy en la misma liga que tú.

              • Phil says:

                Renee, I haven’t been inspired lately to work on anything that used to interest me. Chances are I’ll get back to some of those things including Spanish. Quizás podamos practicar hablar español en el futuro. No me acuerdo, por qué y cuándo has estudiado español?

                • Renee says:

                  Phil, this is totally understandable, with everything you’re going through. Yo estudié espanol en junior high y high school, y en colegio también. Cuando mi familia vinieron a Canada en 1980, you fui en grado ocho y francés fue obligatorio hasta el fin de grado ocho. No comprendi nada en francés. En grado nuevo, hay un optión de aprender espanol. Yo pienso de esta idioma es mas fácil de francés. Pero ahora so viejo y me olvidé mucho. Hace mucho tiempo que yo hablé esta idioma. Cuando estés listo, hágamelo saber.

    • Guru says:

      Phil, like you I was optimistic things would turn around for you & I’m sorry to hear that everything seems to have truly reached the end. You’re welcome to give me calls if you feel any buddying with me would help you through this.

    • Guru says:

      Phil, like you I was optimistic things would eventually turn around especially given you wife wasn’t physically leaving at the time. I’m sorry things seem to have truly reached the end; you’re welcome to call me up if you feel like buddying with me will help you through this.

      • Phil says:

        Thanks Guru, I haven’t been optimistic for a while now.

        • Guru says:

          Phil, yeah I know more recently it deteriorated. I was referring to before Thanksgiving when were were buddying a bit more; there were still glimmers of hope back then.

        • Guru says:

          (This might be a duplicate posting attempt. WordPress is very wonky today.)
          Phil, yeah I know it deteriorated more recently. I was thinking about when we buddied a bit more before Thanksgiving and there were still glimmers of hope.

  62. Guru says:

    Ugh, there was a delay in having my first post come onto the blog, so I figured it was lost and I would need to re-write. So both attempts eventually went through. Just WordPress server messiness.

  63. Daniel says:

    Let’s recap what happened here.
    It started with the following interesting observation by Guru:

    ”Based on what I’ve known of you both here on the blog during the past decade and personally meeting you a few times a long time ago, you seem to have a tendency to storm away intensely angry or disgusted from the scene of being either dogpiled by a group or seriously slighted by someone. When you do leave the scene, you seem to be VERY serious about staying away for a LONG time, with multiple years of absence not being out of the question.”

    Since Guru seems to have many more experiences of and with you, especially off the blog, than I do, and since he made it clear that he felt like helping you somehow, I asked him (again – him, not you) what he thought could help you, not in a way of giving you a brief comfort but rather something that may be more enduring, sort of food for thought.

    For some reason you felt this question of mine was out of line and evidence that I too felt you are a ‘damsel in distress’. In fact, when I responded that I agree with you that ‘damsel in distress’ is in the eye of the beholder and not a fact about you, and added that I never felt you needed saving, surprisingly you became even angrier, now declaring my question invalid for you and my attitude patronizing, assumingly because it was directed at Guru and not you (judging by that SNL sketch).

    Now, why did I say you don’t want to know anything new about yourself? You are a psychotherapist and as one I’m sure in your thoughts and therapeutic actions you go beyond just asking your patients what they need. Had they known that they probably would not have come seeking your help. They feel the distress but don’t know exactly what it is and what to do about it. No, I’m sure you make interpretations and suggestions based on something which is a step further than just what they know about themselves. You use your mind.

    What you say expresses a similar limited self-knowledge of what exactly is going on in the situations Guru described – for example by saying, “my freeze, fight and/or flight reactions can happen very quickly, even for me”, or “I’m not able to express what is going on with me in a way that makes sense”.

    Such statements include the implicit recognition that first, you cannot personally answer the question I posed to Guru and second, that other minds may possibly be of help in understanding something about those states of mind of yours. Yet, you go on rejecting it all, becoming angry, suggesting you fully understand those situations, trying to put those possibly helpful minds off by telling them it’s all their projections, and even trying to control them by telling them which questions they should be asking, how to phrase those questions, who the questions should be addressed to and in what manner.

    So yes, I think Guru’s observation, my question about it, and to a point even the “damsel in distress” metaphor came too close to something painful you don’t want to know. And “damn this distress”.

    • Sylvia says:

      I must say it is interesting to see 2 therapists duking it out. I wonder what each of your supervisors (if you have them) would say have to say about your defenses of your positions. I am just a bystander, but my first impression is to agree with Renee. I would feel insulted someone asking of someone else a therapeutic question about me, if I were in the same room. Innocuous as it seemed I think we all know how Renee or anyone would feel. Guru isn’t a therapist and what answer should he give?

      It’s all Barry’s fault anyway. He rousted Renee away from her work and studies by teasing her, and Guru must have felt dragged into it for the rescue. Here I am stepping into the fray.

      You all take care and have a happy new year. Love you all and this blog.

  64. Daniel says:

    I can relate to Renée being upset when I ask Guru a question about her, I can see how it can be a bit annoying.

    But there are two points I’d like to make here. First, I don’t think this was the main thing she was upset about. In her first response to my question, she didn’t even mention it. In order of appearance and over two separate comments her grievances were:

    1. That I believe she is a damsel in distress needing rescue
    2. That I assumes that I have the right question that will somehow save or fix her
    3. Only lastly, that I didn’t ask her but Guru.
    I believe this order of issues reflects the order of importance of her concerns – conscious and unconsious – in this interaction.

    By the way, it didn’t fully start with Barry but with Renée “unpacking” a historical “sarcastic comment” of mine by misrepresenting not only what I believe but what I actually say. By the way, when I confronted her about it she didn’t find it necessary to respond, perhaps to correct herself or apologize for misrepresenting me.

    The second point I’d like to make is, Renée, or anyone else for that matter, is not made of finely spun glass. She can take criticism, she can take Barry’s sarcastic humour, and being annoyed or even hurt will not kill her. The demand for an absolute and uncompromising safe-space for all, while defining safe-space as a place free of any</em unpleasant feelings brought on by other people's comments, does not only shrivel life in general, but in our present context it is also anti-therapeutic.

    Happy New Year to you Sylvia and to the rest of you fuckers 😊

    • Daniel says:

      Oops, the formatting went bad. It should read:

      The second point I’d like to make is, Renée, or anyone else for that matter, is not made of finely spun glass. She can take criticism, she can take Barry’s sarcastic humour, and being annoyed or even hurt will not kill her. The demand for an absolute and uncompromising safe-space for all, while defining safe-space as a place free of any unpleasant feelings brought on by other people’s comments, does not only shrivel life in general, but in our present context it is also anti-therapeutic.

      Happy New Year to you Sylvia and to the rest of you fuckers 😊

      • Sylvia says:

        Hello, Daniel. Happy New Year to you too. Your last line made me laugh, twice–it being a bit incongruous to the conversation. Yes, I see that it all did not start with Barry, but with Renee “unpacking an historical sarcastic comment.” I guess it was Guru’s concern about Renee not responding to Barry’s little dig that it seemed to become personal. You are off the hook, Barry, for now (that’s a ha, ha, in case there is a doubt about the question of levity.)

        Please excuse any mis-remebering, Daniel because of the late time here and explosive midnight fireworks, just in case I get the event times wrong.

        I wouldn’t say that the order of appearance of Renee’s grievance shows its importance since feelings can be nonlinear. Our deepest feelings can be the last ones we get to, and the tumbling out can come in any order, really, I believe.

        I don’t think Renee or anyone expects this to be a safe place from criticism. It was Guru’s concern that she may feel this place resonated with the unsafe place of her childhood, if my memory serves me right.

        So I was wondering ; you must have had some idea that could benefit Renee, why don’t you just say what that could be? We are here to help each other. I do think Renee alluded to what she needs to do in her response of Dec. 23rd that she hopes someday not to be triggered by these things about how she was treated by her brothers. That there would be no ammunition/old pain. My take was she would keep feeling about it. (Sorry Renee, to talk about you without you being active in the conversation.) I felt when she said she would like a certain approach, I think anyone would like a direct but caring one. I hope your two histories together or polarities–fights, do not preclude a true and caring and helpful, humble, objective opinion to be given or accepted eventually.

      • Guru says:

        Daniel, I won’t address all the minutiae of your valiant efforts here; I just wanted to say I was humorously impressed with your usage of the phrase, “finely spun glass”. Pretty good one there.

        If I apply a bit of free association with “finely spun glass” I can see the connection with the delicate fragility of a “damsel in distress”. Would it be fair to say women can often leverage their moderately frailer body strength (as opposed to men in general) in a psychological or manipulative manner so as to give the impression to men, “Go easy on me, I might break!” even though only words are being exchanged in dialogue?

        I’ve often had an easier time getting angry or yelling at men as opposed to women because of this added perception of gender fragility.

        • Guru says:

          Taking that a step further, I pretty much conflate getting angry, yelling, or being brusquely snide/curt with women as being borderline abusive or controlling towards someone more fragile than I am. I couldn’t live with myself doing stuff like that; it’s like menacingly growling at a defenseless puppy for me.
          It’s must be a strange brand of misogyny I carry around, only it works a bit to my own disadvantage.

          • Guru says:

            Man, that was a pretty big insight for the New Year for me actually. I was my usual rambunctious, tantrum filled toddler self around my mom until she suddenly ‘broke’ and never was around me again. That consequence was so dire I’ve been hyper-cautious about being assertive or aggressive or being rough or tough with any woman ever again. Encased in an icy cold block of caution.

            • Guru says:

              It’s January right now. Cold. Mommy ‘broke’ in January as well, hence the icy cold paralyzing block of extreme caution I was suddenly encased in. I don’t have a visual on this memory (or set of memories), but the peripheral weather around me both now and back then matches everything perfectly.

              We can go right back to Renee and Daniel now. It’s just wild how this insight suddenly rained down on me, that is all.

              • Guru says:

                The top of my brain tells me I am flirting with danger, fearful of having a brain aneurysm. So let me carefully step down from this and ease away, let’s change the topic.

                • Guru says:

                  I laughed hysterically at the initial realization of this insight, but as the minutes and hours drag on from there I’m seeing the knowledge of it is too much for my brain to bear. The icy cold block of caution could never leave me until I found mommy again, which I could never do no matter what I did. My adult side is too disgusted and demoralized at this insane albatross that I’m sure my mom would have never wanted me to have, but it is what it is.

                  • Guru says:

                    This partially explains why I’m such a scavenging cheapskate as an adult. I had a simple $100 tax bill with my local city, which most people wouldn’t think twice of paying a couple months in advance when the bill arrives. Me? I make absolutely sure I pay the bill at the last possible moment so I can collect the 14 cents interest earned on the $100 beforehand.
                    A kid encased in an icy cold block of caution trying to scrape whatever scarce goodies he can from the mercilessly and relentlessly unforgiving world giving nothing to him.
                    Both of my parents would have laughed deliriously at my wasting my brainpower on such matters, trusting in the rewards an abundant larger society could offer them.

                    • Guru says:

                      As absurd as it sounds, I was briefly upset I had that $100 in a very small money market account only drawing 0.8% when I could have easily closed the account and transferred the proceeds to a larger account drawing over 3% interest at the same bank. This negligence cost me about 30 cents extra interest on that $100 tax waiting to be paid to the city for two months, which represents the retail value of a fresh single stack of store brand plain saltine snack crackers down the drain.
                      Too scarcity minded, I know…

                    • Barry M says:

                      Actually Guru I don’t think that you being briefly upset was absurd at all. As a former practicing accountant I am concerned with your mindset that you let that slip. Have you considered therapy?

                • Daniel says:

                  That is one hell of an insight, Guru.
                  I’m not sure if feeling this through will give you aneurysm or eventually prevent one.

                  • Guru says:

                    Daniel, WordPress’ format is terribly cluttery and this distracts from all the points you were trying to make with Renee. My chain of posts obviously turned out to be a huge distraction from that, so I will shut up for now and hopefully you and Renee will work everything out now. My writings should ideally be in a separate thread to hide and organize things better (ie. I wasn’t trying to steal attention, it was a spontaneous and unusual event for me).
                    I’m done talking for now.

                  • Guru says:

                    Daniel, or maybe the more terrifying possibility being I already had one and don’t even know it. I discussed some years ago the MMPI test concluding I had signs of organic brain damage, so maybe suddenly being forced to turn myself into that icy cold cautious stodgy block with dire consequences otherwise did that to a toddler’s mind, I don’t know.

                    • Daniel says:

                      Never thought of you as icy cold, Guru. Somehow it doesn’t really fit you. At least the blog you.

                      And don’t worry even one bit about disturbing or cluttering anything in my discussions with others. As far as I’m concerned these may be useful in shedding light on those discussions, even if it does not look that way.

            • Larry says:

              That seems like quite a profound insight Guru.

        • Daniel says:

          I like the connection you made, Guru, between ‘damsel in distress’ and ‘finely spun glass’. By the way, did you ever give some thought to that writing class I suggested way back?

          • Guru says:

            Daniel, back in the day when Janov’s books were best sellers and Stephen King ruled the roost (1970s-1980s) being a writer was a viable profession for many. People had to pay for books and news periodicals, and the internet was in its infancy only lurking in academic institutions.

            Today, the scene has changed so dramatically to where good writers are a dime a dozen, everybody has a blog or newsletter, so much more information is free online, and legacy newspapers are being picked apart to the bone by private equity buyout specialists, with Alden Capital being a decent example there.

            It’s much more of a barren desert for writers these days. You pretty much have to step up your game to the next level with creative ideas and an ability to code some software with your ideas just to try to stay competitive somehow.

        • Paul Garland says:

          That was in reply to this comment: -“I’ve often had an easier time getting angry or yelling at men as opposed to women because of this added perception of gender fragility”-.

          • Guru says:

            Hi Paul, just wanting to say I read your posts about desiring a strong woman. Although you’re right that a strong woman can ‘get the better of you’, it does ease any stress or worries of breaking her as though she is ‘finely spun glass’ (paraphrasing Daniel there). There’s more freedom to be oneself despite the risks of being snuffed out by an overbearing person, assuming you can get a word in edgewise if she happens to be an incessant talker.
            So many complicated dynamics, yeah.

      • Renee says:

        Daniel, these posts to me and Sylvia left me feeling exhausted. And with a headache. None of what you say resembles anything of what I’m actually thinking and feeling. At the same time, I feel for you because it seems like you invested a lot of energy in writing them. I’m glad that Sylvia was able to interpret my words accurately. Thanks, Sylvia.

        You are in a struggle with me. (FYI, I know something about struggles, having been in a number of them in my life.) Any idea what your struggle with me might be about and what purpose it could be serving you?

        • Daniel says:

          Well Renée, such severe and encompassing sensations as exhaustion and headache are quite a reaction to comments none of which neither reached nor touched you.

          Over the years you have spoken in an aggressive and provoking ways, often accompanied by violent innocence. When you do that about things I care about I feel myself being pushed into an annoyed and a fighting place with you. At the same time, having other people in such a place hurts and triggers you. You very much need gentle, caring experiences in your interactions, and under those circumstances this is hard for me to do.

          • Renee says:

            Daniel, you’re right, your comments did not reach or touch me. Why? Because your obsession/preoccupation with every word I write, is about you, not me. I’ve been trying to tell you that, but it doesn’t seem to register with you. I know, for me, when I’ve been in such struggles, sometimes I can’t see it until I pause and take a breather. Which is often easier said than done.

            As I said before, you can say whatever you want to me. I’m responsible for my feelings, not you. That said, it seems like, from what you say here, you want me to be cautious and careful when I express my real thoughts and feelings about things you care about, if I disagree with you. Otherwise, you could be “pushed into an annoyed and a fighting place with you”. I’m not responsible these feelings, only you are. Therefore, I think that your comment, “you very much need gentle, caring experiences in your interactions” could be a projection. What do you think?

            • Sylvia says:

              My take on this–(and I feel somewhat like an interpreter here,) and since it was me who brought the subject up to Daniel about approaching someone with more care and humility engendering trust–I think we all need to feel cared about and have trust in in order to accept another’s observation to make progress, and what I gathered you wanted, Renee, I shall give this my opinion. I don’t think Daniel is questioning the fights you have altogether about important issues he cares about. He is just saying given since there is a fight, (something I think he wishes wasn’t so, he cannot switch from that into a caring vulnerable therapeutic mode and approach you, as a vulnerable patient/blogger, to give helpful advice to or point out something that may be helpful. There is a rift between you. Instead, the advice or observation will be presented in such a way it will be part of the fight, an attack, a slam and not helpful. That’s my opinion. You can have a fight or a vulnerable trusting session; but you can’t have both.

              • Renee says:

                Sylvia, I just noticed this post of yours now. For some reason, I didn’t see it when you originally posted it. I agree with much of what you say here. It reminds me of the quote, “Only when compassion is present will we allow ourselves to see the truth.” And there can’t be compassion when I’ve triggered Daniel so much about the Israel/Palestine issue. Where I think I might disagree with you (I’m not sure) is that the relentlessness and intensity of Daniel’s investment in trying to change me is very off-putting and unhelpful. And he doesn’t seem to be able to take in my feedback about this. Rather, he doubles down and gets sarcastic. Since he doesn’t share what’s going on under the surface for him with this struggle, we can only guess. For me, there have been a few times in my life when I’ve felt this trapped by someone taking me on as their “project” to fix, starting with my mother. I think I get stuck trying to get heard by someone who can’t/won’t hear me that something is not working. I think that’s where I’m getting drawn in. Along with that, my mother drilled it into me that it was rude for me not to not speak when I’m spoken to. So I go into automatic pilot, which I think is what I’m also doing with Daniel. Just to avoid feeling rejected and the fear of being punished. I think I need to walk away from my interactions with him and just have my feelings.

                • Sylvia says:

                  That sounds like a good solution/dissolution, Renee, to walk away since the whole thing bothers you both and there doesn’t seem to be any eminent resolution. It could be less frustrating for you guys to not engage and just go about dealing with your own individual feelings.

                  • Guru says:

                    This could deaden the blog considerably, though. Imagine if Primal group meetings had everyone leave the room when having a feeling. Would be rather sterile, wouldn’t it?
                    I too was raised in an environment where it was considered impolite not to respond to someone. Another Pandora’s Box topic requiring loads of work hashing out proper guidelines as to how to appropriately deal with it.

                    • Daniel says:

                      My associations to couple of your comments were cinematic.

                      The first was to your “This could deaden the blog considerably” comment:

                      The second was to your “amateur armchair psychoanalysis” comment. It reminded me of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, where a man has a fantasy about his fantasy: that the only way to get rid of his fantasy is to actualize it.

                    • Paul Garland says:

                      – “Imagine if Primal group meetings had everyone leave the room when having a feeling. Would be rather sterile, wouldn’t it?
                      I too was raised in an environment where it was considered impolite not to respond to someone. Another Pandora’s Box topic requiring loads of work hashing out proper guidelines as to how to appropriately deal with it” – .

                      Ha ha ha ha ha ! – That’s exactly why I already don’t comment much. It’s why I refrained from being in this group for a while and yes Renee, I totally get what you’re saying, or at least I feel how your words reflect on me and in my reality too. – So, I ‘believe’ I do understand and agree with you.

                      Well done Sylvia for re phrasing the obvious, or is it obvious?

                      -Aaaaand why do I feel the need to second guess everyone and everything?

                      Isn’t this the precursor to the same old, same old totalitarianism which always recruits individuals into the service of the group by deference and discretion. Making everyone and everything discrete and separate and legally so?

                      Bloody Reductionism and Gaslighting to drive the round pegs throught he square holes of ‘membership’. Conform or piss off. Or be sent to Coventry – (might as well send yourself – you’ve only got yourself to blame, suck it up buttercup, man up, you fill in the dots).

                  • Renee says:

                    Thanks. Sylvia. I appreciate your feedback. I think sometimes I second guess myself more than I actually need to.

            • Daniel says:

              Ok, Renée, so I am,
              Preoccupied with you
              Obsessive about you
              Am projecting on you.

              Do these insights about me draw you any closer to understanding Guru’s observation? To remind you, the observation was that different groups of people at different times and places ganged-up on you or someone seriously slighted you, to the point of you leaving the scene intensely angry or disgusted. Do you remember that this interchange began with that observation and that it has always been about that observation, what it might mean and what can be learned from it?

              I too just shared something about how I feel at times in my interactions with you, which you have now completely deflected and split into tiny bits so the original meaning was first twisted and then lost. Do you really don’t care about how people feel in interactions with you? Don’t you want to know and perhaps learn something from such reports of others? What, are you Robinson Crusoe on a desert island?

  65. Guru says:

    Maybe Gretchen can help with copy/pasting Daniel and Sylvia’s postings from yesterday down here at the bottom of the blog page to help organize things better and start the original conversation anew free from the tangent I went on?

  66. Guru says:

    I’d better mention this to Renee before I forget.
    Renee, I did catch your post from some days ago saying, “Ugg, I really didn’t see the point of responding to Barry. For me, there is not just one way to deal with assholes, or any situation for that matter. I have learned that sometimes it is better not to engage, and to find other ways to deal with the feelings.”

    Your point is reasonably well taken here, though one significant problem with it is that those of us blog readers you don’t perceive as assholes may develop a misunderstanding that you had no reaction to Barry at all. These information gaps can lead people to strangely aberrant and undesirable conclusions, and they may not even be courageous enough to ask you anything about it even if they are suspicious something is going on.

    I say this because I feel a bit bad for Daniel messing up all his hard work by going on the ‘icy cold block’ tangent I went on. I wondered to myself, “Now why couldn’t I have been more disciplined like Renee and just shut up with the whole stream of thought, taking everything elsewhere in silence?”

    • Guru says:

      Maybe it was just the overwhelming urge to share something exciting I found. If I tamped it all down and muttered it only to myself it would have thrown cold water on it, rendering the discovery dull and flavorless. Clearly a different motivation than with your case with Barry.

    • Renee says:

      I appreciate your feedback, Ugg. Something for me to reflect on, in terms of the benefits and drawbacks of my decision not to respond to Barry.

      However, I don’t see it as “taking everything elsewhere in silence”. More a matter of being mindful of when to share and when not to. And not taking everything on the blog so seriously, like I used to. Which only led to me getting burned out. Burn out is not a fun place to be!

      • Guru says:

        I have to admit I’ve wondered a few times whether you troll poor Daniel for fun. One of those instances being the sharp, short comment you made to him about abortion, which he took very seriously and gave a long, seemingly flustered response.

        While the burnout issue may be real, those who do take the blog very seriously might find those who don’t to be frustrating to deal with.

  67. Barry M says:

    Happy New Year to you too Daniel and to all your ‘reproducing attempters’. Like Sylvia I laughed uproariously at your last sentence. Wow, intelligence, patience, and wit – you’re the complete package.

    Phil, I’m so sorry for all you are going through with the end of your marriage. The pain must be excruciating, and the next few months/year will be hard to bear. I don’t believe you will be left with nothing though. You will still have your kids, the support of us all on the blog, and the knowlege that you won’t have to struggle anymore to maintain a relationship that was only draining on you. I also question your wife’s decision not to inform your children of the facts of your break-up until after Christmas. All that does, I feel, is to make a sham of all your Yuletide celebrations. Your kids are aware, believe me.

    Margaret, first off let me congratulate you on your new budding relationship, he sounds like a keeper. Good luck.
    I noted your dismay about someone being ‘talked about in a critical way’ when they are not present. We who have read you on the blog and who know you from retreats are aware of your gentle nature and love and admire you for it. The fact is though the blog is a microcosm of the world in general, which is not always (hardly ever) a passive place. I believe it might be a little boring if it were.

    Guru and Renee.
    My, my, what vitriol eight simple words/one question have produced.
    In your defense I will be the first to admit that my ‘Wassup” was a little dig at Daniel besting Renee yet again – ‘Renee’s answers to these questions being Nil, None, and No.’ Brilliant – hardly, childish – probably but I chuckled none the less.
    ‘She bears a striking resemblance to Renee’ – again a reference to Judaea being defeated – like Renee.
    These few words have caused Renee to accuse me of being cruel, mean spirited, an asshole, and likened to someone who needed kicking in the balls really hard. Who exactly is the bully here?
    While I’m at it, what is with the damsel and dude in distress? What, did you two each win a lifetime subscription to the Disney channel or something? These are blog posts, not threats to steal your lunch money for Pete’s sake. Let me guess, you’re favourite T.V. show growing up was Roger Moore in Ivanhoe – he had a white horse and everything!
    Guru, my initial issue with you was when you made a highly inappropriate joke about Montecito being a shithole after the 2018 mudslides. This is a place that many of us have wonderful memories of and were devastated at the destruction of Casa de Maria.
    I believe I asked you to go and fornicate with yourself- hardly bullying. Renee immediately went into her shit disturbing role and incited you to react, much as you did as soon as I posted my last comment. Neither one of you needs to provoke emotions in the other. You’ve both been around long enough to do that all by yourselves.
    Yes Guru, we have had an ‘uneasy’ truce for the last while. I’ve actually enjoyed some of your recent posts. I do find you overly verbose at times, and I haven’t always been interested in what you write, but I will defend to the end your right to be wordy. It’s what you do.
    Renee. It is no secret to anyone here that I do not like you. I’ve seen you in person at retreats and watched you in action on the blog. I could list what my reasons are, but I’ve already done that and see no purpose in repeating myself. It is really sad that you grew up being antagonized, tormented and bullied by your brothers and sisters. I grant you that you all needed more from your parents, it does beg the question though, were they the demon siblings from Hades, or were they just really good judges of character?
    One final question for you. Why do you persist on being on the blog when you consistantly show such disrespect and disdain for both Gretchen and the Primal Institute?

    • Renee says:

      Barry, you say you dislike me. But from what you write to and about me, I think that’s a gross understatement! I would characterize it more as disgust and hostility. Sometimes I wonder why you’ve given me the power to elicit such strong feelings in you. But then I remind myself that this is not something I need to be thinking about. That’s for you to reflect on, or not. I need to focus on myself.

      As for my feelings towards Gretchen, you’re partially right, I have felt disrespect and disdain toward her at times, just not consistently. When you’ve known someone (even therapeutically) for several decades, there are often many feelings that come up at different times. For me, these feelings have included warmth, caring, fear, anger, respect, disdain, exhaustion, gratitude, surprise, shock, disappointment, disrespect, protectiveness, hurt, love, sadness and confusion. Your comment comes across as if you’re disgusted by my feelings of disrespect and disdain. And like you wish I would just go away or be banished. Which is kind of like a cult mentality, where only certain feelings towards the leader are acceptable, like adoration and unconditional respect. Scary. Food for thought.

      • Barry M says:

        Renee, nope wrong again, I just dislike you, you would have to be way more obnoxious for me to spend the effort to be disgusted by you.

        I’ve known Gretchen for decades also and have never experienced anywhere near that many feelings, especially negative ones, towards her. I know her for the caring, compassionate, empathetic, sensitive and effective therapist that she is. I would be surprised if most of the other blog participants wouldn’t agree with me. If you feel that makes us Mansonesque in our beliefs then I pity you.

        Food for you to think about, how many of your patients have similar cynical feelings towards you?

    • Daniel says:

      I’m not sure I deserve these accolades, Barry, but thanks.
      You’re funny and very direct, even brutally honest.
      I wonder, does that kind of confidence come from having gone through PT or from having a Jag parked outside?

      • Barry M says:

        Hah Daniel!
        PT is by far first, both with repect to the time frame and to which has been more beneficial to my life.

  68. Guru says:

    Barry, I want to immediately respond in regard to the 2018 Montecito disaster. Almost the exact time that tragedy struck, everybody in the news media was abuzz with Donald Trump using the phrase “shithole countries”. Somehow I wanted to make some light of an obviously dark situation and the ‘shithole’ comment was the only thing I could imagine given that mud is of a similar texture. I can see where it was in poor taste, for sure. If I rattle off 10,000 words of verbiage, it’s statistically inevitable at least 5 out of those 10,000 words will ruffle some feathers.

    At any rate, no one’s denying how terrible and scary the entire incident was. Lots of beautiful people and things were utterly ruined with no warning.

    Also, you may not be aware that I personally went to Casa de Maria for retreats myself, stayed in the dorms with curtains, ate at the cafeteria, and even smoked in the little smoking room because it was a ‘high fire area’ surrounded on the mountainside with beautifully exotic cactii/flora. I was raised Catholic and I deeply appreciated the place more than you realize.

  69. Guru says:

    ….And I also want to add I agree with Sylvia that I hope Renee keeps returning to the blog despite the blowback from Daniel and Barry. She seems to add a lot of creative spice igniting larger, more animated conversations, to be sure!
    There’s nothing wrong with having fun on the blog or not taking it seriously, but I do think trolling can come at a corrosive cost for others and should be gently curtailed eventually, especially given the therapeutic nature of the blog itself.

    • Renee says:

      Ugg, I don’t get your narrative of trolling. I respond when I want to Daniel, in a way that feels meaningful to me, just as I think he does with me. I trust that he is an adult and can take care of himself and his feelings towards me. It is not my job to take care of his feelings. Or vice versa.

      I think that people on the blog use it for different purposes at different times….sometimes having fun, sometimes not, sometimes taking things personally, sometimes not, sometimes writing very personal things, sometimes not, sometimes just reading what’s being said but not contributing. Why do you want some of these things to be curtailed? Can’t they all be okay and welcomed?

      • Guru says:

        Renee, well OK I’m still open to the possibility I drew the wrong conclusion about ‘trolling’ of Daniel based on limited information. For instance, if you hadn’t explicitly told Daniel just now that his words to you were causing headaches and exhaustion, I would have been more likely to infer that you were ‘trolling’ him by not responding to him at all.
        It’s very similar to the feedback I gave earlier today about not responding to Barry. Others who you still get along with might draw seriously incorrect conclusions why you didn’t respond, even though it was the right thing to do for yourself.
        Sooo……okie dokie, maybe nothing should be curtailed at all, then, and all is well in the village with only a few disgruntled members at this time, namely Barry and Daniel.

  70. Margaret says:

    I just heard, during a classics line-up on the radio,’shine on you crazy diamond’ from Pink Floyd, and very soon it opened up my defenses, opened up the gates just by the melody changes from the long instrumental part, all the way through to the end, tears streaming.
    a straight entrance to missing, longing for, sadness and a glimpse of hope…
    and Phil, a heart wrenching saxophone solo in the end you might want to play, it has all of the feelings in it…
    fabulous music, M

  71. Guru says:

    Reading through the posts I instinctually noted something…just in the background.

    I believe both Renee and I are vegetarians, while Barry is omnivorous. I won’t go into any arguments about what is superior, to each his or her own.

    But the reason I note this is it seems our everyday dietary regimes have some affect on our dialogue or writing styles.

    Renee’s writings and my own writings seem more crispy, chirpy, and efficient like snapping apart a stalk of celery.

    Barry seems to have more of a biting, gristle-filled, slovenly writing style out for the kill.

    This is not personal towards anyone; I just noticed that it seems possible our diet affects our brains and is expressed through our respective writing styles.

    Please note I am NOT trying to knock on anyone personally here. I want to emphasize this as an anecdotal observation, nothing more.

    • Guru says:

      As a drawback to the vegetarian side, I can even see an argument for it being a bit of a ‘wimpy’ writing style due to the protein consumption profile of such a person.

    • Sylvia says:

      I’m vegetarian for health reasons, but I do not think it affects personality that much. Note about Hitler:

      • Guru says:

        Sylvia, hmm well that’s an interesting clip and it would seem to completely refute my observations if it’s true Hitler was a vegetarian. My point was simply that meat eaters seem to have amore aggressive writing style overall. Hitler was likely an extreme outlier defying conventional observations, I would imagine.

        • Guru says:

          Sylvia, by the way did you notice how you presented that video to us in a crispy, chirpy, and efficient manner?

        • Daniel says:

          Here is the wonderful first scene in Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not to Be:

          And if you have a few more minutes, here is the full scene with Jack Benny, Carol Lombard, and some of the Lubitsch regulars. It’s great:

  72. It sounds personal Guru

    • Guru says:

      No, it’s not. Really, because if it was personal I wouldn’t have noted the possible drawback to the vegetarian side.

    • Guru says:

      Gretchen, no it’s not personal at all. I couldn’t help but note the differences in styles. If it was personal I wouldn’t have noted that vegetarians can arguably have a more ‘wimpy’ style.

      This might be a duplicate post. WordPress failed the first time.

    • Guru says:

      Moreover, I think Patrick once noted a study claiming vegetarianism leads to brain damage, and I still struggle with repetitive thoughts on inconsequential topics as a comforting crutch against a scary world filled with unknown possibilities. It’s possible animal protein could help with this, though I’m extremely reluctant to try.

      • Sylvia says:

        I think lack of vitamin B-12 could lead to neurological problems, but that can be remedied by taking that supplement for vegetarians. If you eat eggs or fish, then that should not be a problem and wouldn’t need the supplement.

        • Guru says:

          Sylvia, yeah I might have to work on that, thanks. Fish-related DHA omega 3’s and/or B-12 look possible. Might veer into pescatarianism soon, though seafood and eggs are expensive and harder to prepare.

  73. Well one side is crispy and chirpy while the other is biting and out for the kill. Also I noticed you felt no need to rescue Barry from being called an asshole which struck many as a much harsher comment than the one Barry made. I believe you did say the need to rescue is mostly triggered with women. All women or some women? Gretch

    • Guru says:

      Gretchen, I suppose the reason for that is Barry seems much tougher and resilient than Renee, though that is only an IMPRESSION that I gathered which may be incorrect.
      The tough people don’t need saving and Barry is not a damsel.

  74. Also I would never describe you as crispy and chirpy . G.

  75. Barry M says:

    Really Guru? And just when I thought there was hope for you.

    My writings are biting, gristle-filled and slovenly, whilst yours are crispy, chirpy and efficient? Apart from those claims being very open to debate, I think you are definitely suggesting yours is superior.

    Sounds to me like you should mellow out with a juicy Big Mac!

    • Guru says:

      Barry, do note the possible drawbacks I mentioned above? The wimpiness and possible brain damage?

      I didn’t have a chance to finish out all my points before you and Gretchen immediately responded.

  76. Barry M says:

    Really Guru? And just when I thought there was hope for you.

    My writings are biting, gristle-filled and slovenly, whilst yours are crispy, chirpy and
    efficient? Apart from those claims being very open to debate, I think you are definitely suggesting yours is superior.

    Sounds to me like you should mellow out with a juicy Big Mac!

  77. Guru says:

    (This is NOT a reply to Barry, there are billions of meat eaters in the world)

    I was disappointed I didn’t think of the adjective “gnarly” earlier when describing the possible subliminal writing styles of omnivores or pure carnivores. Almost as though you can feel the low growl emanating from their word structures, unlike the crispy, chirpy, wimpy vegetarians.

    OK, I’m done with this. Just some wild brainstorming.

  78. Margaret says:

    when Renee mentioned all the different feelings that she had , probably old and present ones, that were triggered in her by Gretchen over time, I found it honest and open.
    I have no idea what made you reply the way you did, using yourself seemingly as an example of only positive feelings towards Gretchen as if that would be the proper way or something.
    aren’t we all in therapy to honestly look at what is triggered and then work back our ways to possible old roots mixed into the matter?
    I think there is hardly any therapist that is never confronted with negative feelings towards him or her, and you put it as if it would be a proof of Renees shortcomings, at least that is how it came across to me.
    maybe it is time for you to search in yourself for some roots of your attacks to Renee?
    thanks for calling me gentle, it surprised me but felt nice to hear.

    • Barry M says:

      I agree with you Margaret, there may be no therapist that doesn’t have a patient with negative feelings towards her/him. Renee with Gretchen being a ‘local’ example. I am not trying to be an example of correctness with my positivity towards Gretchen, my positive feelings towards her just ‘are’.
      Tell me, have you ever felt disdain towards G? Have you ever been hurt by her? Disrespected or angered by her? If so I am surprised and would really be interested if you felt you could be open about what happened. If not then you are just like me.

  79. Phil says:

    I finally informed my older son what’s going on with my wife and me, as we were out for a walk, and he was shocked. He didn’t have a clue about this. He had little to say, he said he had to process it. He did say he was very sad, and wanted us both to be happy. I could see how shocked he is. It was very hard to have to tell him, but that’s the reality and he needs to know. He’s leaving on Thursday and will be back in LA next weekend, so at least he has a few days to digest it while staying with us the next few days.
    My wife wasn’t happy I did this, she still wanted to keep it from him. She asked “did it make me feel better” telling him, as if it’s all about me. It did make me feel slightly better momentarily, in that it needed to be done, and I feel maybe a little less alone with it. But I’m very sad that our family will be broken up this way. There’s nothing good in this that I can see, and I continue to be heavily triggered.
    Now the next chance I have I’ll have to visit our other son and tell him too.

    • Sylvia says:

      I think it is a good thing you have done, Phil. No matter when your sons know/find out about the break-up, it wouldn’t be easy, as if prolonging it will, as your wife thinks. Now or later, it has to be hard to process for them. I’m glad you feel a little lighter. You don’t have to lie to your son now with the omission of the truth.

    • Guru says:

      Phil, it’s pretty clear to me your wife is being unduly manipulative when SHE was the one who initiated this entire divorce saga and then tries to make you feel guilty just telling your son what’s going on. Something’s pretty toxic on her part there.

    • Phil says:

      The look on my son’s face was so shocked and sad when I told him about this. That’s going to be bothering me for a long time. It makes me feel even more pressure to fix it, but I can’t. I think I’ve been doing everything I can, it’s up to my wife. It just shouldn’t be happening.

    • Daniel says:

      It is becoming more real as it is being announced. It’s sad. Some people prefer to break-up rather than break-down or break-through. Really sad.

      • Phil says:

        Daniel, yes it’s becoming more real, and it’s very sad. I’m having feeling break-throughs, but I’d rather didn’t happen like this. My son seems fine today, he’s very busy, but I’m sure this will be very painful. We will always be his parents, although thevfamily will become fragmented. My wife, however, will no longer be my partner and best friend. It feels like her part of my life is being deleted, amputated, or something worse, and it resonates with what happened to me in childhood. Phil

  80. Margaret says:

    as I wrote to Barry, I found your list of feelings regarding Gretchen honest and open, touching really.
    thinking about it it suddenly struck me one feeling which would be for me omnipresent, seemed not to be mentioned in your list, namely need.

  81. Margaret says:

    it sounds to me like you have done very well by telling him.
    I wonder why your wife seems to keep wanting to hide the truth.
    you were courageous to do so, and to make yourself vulnerable. your wife should respect you for waiting so long just because she asked you to.

    • Phil says:

      Thanks Margaret. I got the insight that telling my son has me “feeling a little less alone with it”, just as I was writing that message. It shows how writing on the blog can be very useful. It seems a pretty important insight, but anyway our sons do need to know, besides that.

  82. Margaret says:

    give me one good reason why I would discuss with you here what kind of feelings I have had or have towards Gretchen.
    I wonder why you ask, that is why I don’t feel like answering your question.
    it comes across as manipulative to serve you somehow.
    and I don’t think anyone of us is the same really, regarding our old feelings, but maybe for you it is simply nice to feel so good about Gretchen, maybe she is your perfect mom for you, and that is fine. she is a nice person, and we are all triggered in our own personal way.
    that is no problem at all, as long as we are honest about it.

  83. Phil, I can only say how sad this is. I know you will be alright as will your sons but it a long road of grieving. Margaret, personally I don’t care what someone asks me. I just answer or I don’t . You may be assigning too much meaning to Barry’s question. It does seem you had already made up your mind, I am just suggesting you reread a few of his posts. I don’t know but maybe you have a history, maybe not. As for me I really don’t mind if people have positive or negative feelings about me or something in between. It’s pretty much part of the human experience. All relationships have things that will come up over the course of time. But you are right when you say the key is honesty. I would not say Barry, for instance, never had a negative feeling about me I would say he was always direct and willing to resolve things with the people he cares about. It’s not bad to have negative feelings and as Daniel said ( I am paraphrasing) this is life, we don’t need to walk on eggshells ( I am paraphrasing as to lazy to look through old posts ha!) . So for me it is not about negative or positive feelings it is about how we handle whatever we are feeling. Frankly I admire someone who can say directly “ I don’t like you”. What a relief. Gretchen

  84. Margaret says:

    I have no history with Barry, I mean nothing negative at all, at retreats our communications have always been friendly.
    maybe for me it was the ‘I don’t like you’ that felt hurtful towards Renee.
    I don’t think I would be inclined to say that to someone, as it is so dismissive of the entire person.
    I would rather say I don’t like the way you… or I don’t like it when you behave like…
    , which are attitudes or behaviours of a person.
    and with regard to my feelings about you, they were merely fears of mine, fears to be disliked or rejected, but I felt always able to comminicate with you and you have always responded very nicely and quick, so those feelings were processed as for what they were, projections of old stuff.
    so now no bad stuff as far as I am aware of remaining.
    I do feel slightly attacked, smiley, I guess you like Barry a lot and feel protective of him, which is ok I feel protective of Renee at times, or of anyone that seems to be hurt unnecessarily.
    my comment was just what it was, literally what I was saying was what I was feeling, why the continued criticism on Renee when she actually said nothing wrong when she summed up her feelings about you, there was plenty of positive stuff , and as you say, smiley, even Barry seems to have had some more negative moment, which seems fine really.
    so we agree, honesty is the clue, and maybe for me productivity, ‘I don’t like you’ seems only hurtful, not constructive at all.
    and after all this is a therapeutic place and for me it would be better to say I don’t like it when you…, for example
    when I think about someone in group that regularly triggers me, I don’t dislike that person as a whole, but just the specific attitude and behavior on that moment, which also often reflects my own need.
    so I can see a kid saying ‘I don’t like you’ but we are supposed to become more adults isn’t it?

    • Renee says:

      I appreciate your support, Margaret. I agree with you that just saying “I don’t like you” is hurtful and unhelpful. I was particularly struck by your last sentence, “so I can see a kid saying ‘I don’t like you’ but we are supposed to become more adults isn’t it?” I’m not sure that this is everyone’s goal.

      This comment also reminded me of when I worked with 2- and 3-year olds for many years. Part of helping them with their problem-solving skills was to first let them have their feelings and then to help them articulate what the other child did that wasn’t okay with them, then set their boundaries and ask for what they needed. All this helped them grow emotionally in a way that just saying “I don’t like you”, would not have done. I think that a big part of therapy should be about not just lashing out but also looking inward and expressing those feelings. Which I thought you expressed really well in your post.

  85. Margaret, I don’t think of blogs as therapeutic really but rather a place to simply speak to others. We all hope to make connections in this life. Some are more successful than others. I tend to feel protective of anyone I like or care about. That does not mean I would not say the truth as I see it, even if it is difficult to hear. I also think sometimes people are just not a match. I think you can dislike someone without needing to break down all your reasons for feeling as you do. That being said it’s fair for you to have asked why Barry doesn’t like her and he can answer or not. Sometimes it’s the end of a story and not the beginning. We can’t always know what’s gone on previously. I do think it can be useful to reread the exchanges as I have noticed that sometimes it seems there is a response to things that were not even close to what was said. I could not even find the horrible, horrible comment that Barry made that inspired Gurus rescue. When I did finally find it, well I will just say lots of old feelings at play. I guess I would say we all need to read carefully. I am not talking about you but everyone. In fact this happened to me recently when a whole discussion went on about something I said that absolutely no one seemed to notice was miles from my actual point ( except Sylvia of course 🙂 ). I understand many people prefer a slightly more indirect approach, I prefer straight forward any day of the week. Life is short. Gretch

    • Renee says:

      Gretchen, for someone who prefers straight forward, you sure know how to produce a hodgepodge of indirectness! None of your post is direct and actually addresses any of Margaret’s observations. And we know you’re referring to Sylvia’s comment of your post about the past. And you not appreciating my comment that I didn’t think the past was past. Okay. Why not just say it? And that you’re angry at me. Just “cut to the chase” as you like to say. It’s not okay that you’re pitting people on the blog against each other. It’s not okay that you’re gaslighting anyone who shows any kindness or support of me. It’s not okay that you’re defending people who don’t like me. It’s unprofessional and unethical. Please stop.

    • Guru says:

      I’m just going to interject myself briefly here. I distinctly remember Renee and Gretchen having bad blood and being at each other’s throats all the way back to around 2011-2013 when there was an exceptionally contentious argument between the two on the blog.

      We’re looking at a grudge between the two dating back more than an entire decade. With all of this time having passed, is there any hope in gently stepping towards reconciliation of some kind?

      I wish I understood more about why this is happening. Not because of a voyeuristic interest, but rather I would have to assume both have seriously legitimate grievances which may be going unappreciated by most of us.

      It disturbs me making a wholly uninformed decision on who to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ in the meantime, so I feel stuck being neutrally dumb.

      • Guru says:

        I had 5% gray hair when I first came to understand Gretchen and Renee don’t like each other back in 2011. Now it’s closer to 35% gray hair with no progress towards mutual understanding.

      • Larry says:

        It’s amazing to me that there can be so many interpretations by as many different people of what someone said, many interpretations that are different from what the speaker meant. But then again it isn’t amazing because none of us sees all of reality as it actually is. We interpret it through our past experience of life.

        What will our world come to if no one ever took the time to try to hear what the speaker actually really meant. I know my new relationship wouldn’t have lasted this long if I didn’t try to understand what my partner really meant at times when I felt hurt by her after interpreting wrongly her meaning in what she said to me. It’s a good thing for us we were able to talk beyond our fears and hurt and come to understand what was really going on between us and clear up our misinterpretations that clouded our assessment of the reality between us.

        Even if we do take the time to hear what they really meant, we might not believe them because we feel we know better than the speaker does about what the speaker really meant. So whose reality is the healthier one in such a strained paired dynamic.

        As for myself, in assessing where is the reality in an ongoing confrontation between two people, I give more weight to the person whose model of reality helps them to grow deep personal relationships and life satisfaction. I give less weight to the person whose model of reality causes them problems in their personal relationships and life satisfaction. And, the more I trust someone and their views make sense to me, the more easily I’m drawn to them, and vice versa of course. That’s the compass I relied on most to help guide me through my life.

        As for being able to follow and make sense of the recent thread between Daniel, Renee, Barry, Margaret and Gretchen, there is too much to untangle, but from what I see there sure is a lot of misinterpretation going on of what’s been said, in my opinion.

        Not that anything I said is helpful. I just wonder, fear, how can the fabric of society hold together if too many of us so readily misinterpret each other.

        • Phil says:

          Larry, I’ve read all the recent discussions but I couldn’t really say what happened. There seem to be antagonisms left over from past discussions which took place months or even years ago.

        • Guru says:

          Larry, you said:
          “I give less weight to the person whose model of reality causes them problems in their personal relationships and life satisfaction”

          I’m sorry, but I have to say this can be a terrible way to look at things from my view.

          –Take a look at Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett with their $100 billion fortune from Berkshire Hathaway’s family of companies.
          –Know what was absolutely critical towards those men in their 90’s to have such towering fortunes? Millions of high-velocity automobiles working in tandem to create massive amounts of economic activity working in favor of their pocketbook
          –They have no problem paying no Pigouvian tax towards the people who are slaughtered by the negative externalities presented by such high-velocity automobiles
          –Since I do have a problem with this arrangement of zero Pigouvian tax and it was a $30 million problem for me before I had a chance to leave pre-school daycare age, should my model of reality be less trusted than Mr. Buffett or Mr. Munger’s?

          • Guru says:

            I guarantee you that no Pigouvian tax arrangement on the deadly and costly high-velocity automotive negative externalities gave Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger fewer problems in their personal relationships and life satisfaction than it did for me, so it adds insult to injury when my own model should be less trusted as well.

          • Larry says:

            Well Guru, since you asked, between yours and Warren Buffet’s model of reality, I would lean towards his after reading this quote from him that I found in a 5 second search on the internet.

            “I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them,” Buffett continued. “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is — your life is a disaster. That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.”

        • Guru says:

          But more to the point about Renee and Gretchen. If Gretchen is not feeling any drama over Renee’s dislike of Gretchen, yet Renee is feeling the drama maybe something bad happened here which Renee truly has a legitimate gripe over? And it didn’t bother Gretchen simply because the incident didn’t hurt her personally? I have no idea.
          I put ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ in quotes simply because the terms were being thrown around here on the blog a lot recently. I need to know more about what happened, though, before I can draw more informed conclusions (simple enough).

  86. Guru, I would guess you don’t like either of us if your decision to like or dislike is dependent on which side of an argument you agree with. In any case I don’t think there is anyone who has written on this blog that I did not agree with and then disagreed with at some point . You will even find over the years there were times I agreed with Patrick and times I did not. We are all entitled to our opinions. For me that is not a drama. G.

  87. Guru, Once again that is not what I said. Please reread my post. I said I felt it was not a drama for people to see things quite differently. Also with all due respect you may think you had some understanding of what I felt in 2011 but in truth unless you directly asked me what I felt ( which you did not) then it is likely you didn’t. I also wonder why you feel the need to come to a conclusion about something that does not involve you? G.

    • Guru says:

      Gretchen 2011 on the blog was a very vague memory for me, the best of which was that the two of you were at each other’s throats back then. My larger point was that the disagreements have been going on for more than a decade, and after such a long time and with life being so short (at least for those not extremely lucky) it seemed opportune to begin understanding why such a confrontation is taking place.

      Millions of people come to conclusions about things that don’t directly involve them every day for personal self-enrichment and mind expansion. Do you feel as though there is something wrong with that?

      • Guru says:

        Also, regarding “I felt it was not a drama for people to see things quite differently”

        If person A is in a position of high power over person B who seriously disagrees with person A on something, of course person A is going to say it’s not a drama if person B is powerless to change anything about the issue which may work against person A’s interest.

        So, something’s going on here that bothers me. It seems that Renee is very upset with Gretchen about something which is impossible for Renee to change because Gretchen holds considerably more power than Renee, thus there would be no drama for Gretchen since she holds all the procedural cards in the matter.

        I don’t dislike either of you, though I feel very concerned there might be something I should know so I won’t be foolishly carrying around severely mistaken beliefs.

  88. Guru says:

    Didn’t the Institute once survive a firebombing on Altmont St.? Surely whatever’s going on with Renee can’t be as big of a threat in relation to that, I would think. Let’s approach things diplomatically.

    • Larry says:

      Maybe it would be helpful, and appropriate, to talk also to Renee about it if you want to try to get a better understanding, Guru.

      • Guru says:

        Larry, I only had a passing curiosity as to what was going on with Renee and Gretchen many years ago, and that my curiosity grew exponentially with the numerous ‘damsel in distress’ postings of recent weeks…but at this time it seems Renee doesn’t want to go any further, so I will let it go.
        It just seemed sad and tragic, with the reasons to discover valuable new things increasingly compelling as a result.

      • Larry says:

        I think if you talked one-on-one to each of the two principles involved, you just very well might discover valuable new things, Guru.

        • Guru says:

          Well this is starting to make me feel a little awkward, Larry. I was simply growing more curious as to what was going on with Renee and Gretchen, and that they could hopefully sort things out on the blog.
          If they don’t want to, they don’t want to.
          It’s not going to be something that will gnaw away at my very soul causing me to lose sleep at night. I’m sure they will both do well independently of each other, if it has to be that way.
          Gretchen displayed a swarthy brand of confidence in her last post even though the topic was unrelated, so maybe there’s nothing to worry about here anyway.

            • Guru says:

              Larry, I’m starting to realize Renee might really need comfort and reassurance rather than biting criticism as this time, based on what she said and what Daniel told her very recently. Looks like Chris P is in trouble, too, so maybe it’s time to put the knives back in their sheaths overall.

  89. There was no firebombing at Almont . That’s a new one ! G.

    • Guru says:

      Well maybe I don’t remember the details correctly about the location or how the fire was set. I remembered it as an angry patient setting fire to the Institute, so if that fireball can be survived then surely any challenge can be addressed at the diplomatic level.

      • Daniel says:

        If memory serves, it was the one on Pico Blvd., the one I went to. I remember writing Vivian a letter of condolences.

      • Vicki says:

        I remember hearing some therapist say that they never found out who set the fire, and someone speculated or guessed it could have been a former patient who was unhappy or angry about something, or possibly someone who applied but was rejected for therapy. They did not know.

        • Guru says:

          Rumors can spread around piling on a cumulative series of details and embellishments as it travels from person to person, until finally after ten or twenty people the rumor is severely distorted from how it began.

  90. Guru, Sorry but that is not correct either. There was a fire at our building on Colby. But it was absolutely not set by an angry patient nor was it a fire bomb. I wonder where you heard that. I do think you tend to gravitate towards the most negative possibilities. You describe what you imagine happened with such certainty. There is a bit of a danger in that. I will stick with what I said to you last night and leave it at that. G.

  91. Daniel, It was between Pico and Olympic on Colby. It was horrible to say the least but luckily no one was injured. Gretch

  92. Hey All, Some of you may know that Chris P. was unexpectedly admitted to Cedars Sinai last Friday. The doctors are conducting tests to discover the source of some pain he is experiencing. If you have time to visit, text or call he would love it. You can contact me if you don’t have his info. Gretchen

  93. I don’t think Larry was suggesting that you be critical. Is that what you thought Guru?

    • Guru says:

      Gretchen, I understand Larry didn’t suggest that. I threw in a few additional, final thoughts of my own before wandering off for a while.

  94. Barry M says:

    Sorry Guru, I’m confused. Gretchen ‘displayed a swarthy brand of confidence in her last post’. Does that make her a vegetarian or a dastardly omnivore? Frankly I always thought her ‘go-to’s were M&Ms.

    • Guru says:

      Barry, earlier you wondered what Renee was doing here on the blog if she shows disdain for Gretchen and the Institute.

      I sometimes wonder what you yourself are doing here:

      –You’re apparently happily married
      –You have kids you’re beaming with pride over
      –You talk about how you take all these great, wonderful trips around the world

      By all accounts you should be living a completely fulfilled life, so why are you even here? Just to taunt us about how good your life is in comparison to others here who might be struggling in more areas?

      I would think someone who is mostly fulfilled in life would have no need to even bother with this blog, and to just live their great life.

      One exception to this would seem to be if a therapist with a fulfilled life was here, for there might be more professional reasons involved in that case.

  95. Barry M says:

    I sometimes wonder the same thing when I read blogs like yours, but in case you you were asking a serious thoughtful question let me respond.

    1) I believe in Primal Therapy and want to experience all facets of it.

    2) I’ve been involved with the Institute and have benefited from that involvement since the early 80s. I see no reason to cease that connection just because I enjoy the life that that association has helped me to achieve. If I’ve ever taunted anyone that my life is better than theirs then I apologize for it. I don’t believe I have though.

    3) The advent of Covid has curtailed any physical contact with the wonderful therapists (and some patients) who remain at the Institute, either with sessions or Retreats (my favourite) Zoom helps, but it’s not the same.

    4) I’ve met many people through Primal over the years, some of whom are on the Blog and a number of whom I consider friends. I like to check in occasionally to see what’s going on with them, and the Blog makes it easy to do so.

    5) Warren Buffet and his ilk have apparently 100s of millions of dollars in their bank accounts and I don’t. It’s making me depressed as hell. Gretchen, can I book a session?

  96. Guru says:

    You said, “If I’ve ever taunted anyone that my life is better than theirs then I apologize for it. I don’t believe I have though.”
    Honestly you could have fooled me there. More than once I’ve felt as though you wanted to make a glorious display of how wonderful your life is and you wanted to stop by to rub our faces in it.

    Maybe I’m wrong about my feeling on that, I don’t know.

  97. Barry M says:

    Geez Guru, and here it was just on Christmas day when you were claiming that you didn’t want to ‘poke the bear’ – your words, not mine, and yet here you go again. To be perfectly clear I don’t think your latest post deserves a response from me, but in order to present the facts as I remember them and also because it itches where you poked – – –
    I have only mentioned my sons twice in recent history. About 3 years ago when they got together to buy me an old classic Jaguar, and the ONLY reason I posted about it was because I was asked to by someone who thought it was a great story that would give people on the Blog a lift. The other time was a few months ago? when I was talking about how no matter how successful my sons were that as a parent I could never stop worrying about them. Daniel totally understood and felt the same way.
    You want me to apologize for that?
    Yes I am happily married to a fellow primal, which has both pluses and minuses, believe me. You want me to apologize for that?
    I fail to see how any of the above is rubbing your faces in anything.
    Maybe you should concentrate more on improving your own life instead of trying to make me feel guilty about the ‘wonderful life’ I have.
    There are always things I am working on, or need to work on (check with L for that), sad things happening to us and/or family & friends & some wonderful joys. My childhood traumas can still haunt me – and that’s where Primal & Gretchen & Barry & the love & supports in my life really help.

    • Guru says:

      It’s not just about your sons and the Jaguar, it’s all the trips around the world, etc. All kinds of little things. Nothing bad happens to you at all, it seems, so why are you here? There’s nothing left to really cure.

      I’m not saying you should apologize for living the ‘wonderful life’, it just feels like you enjoy stopping by and rubbing it in the faces of those you don’t like that much and may not be as fortunate.

      That’s my feeling.

      • Guru says:

        I mean, it’s a different story where Larry is concerned (at least somewhat) because he struggled to find love again for year after Noreen died. I have no problem being happy for him since he struggled with a major personal obstacle and eventually overcame it. Same thing with Margaret with succeeding in school, finding a possible boyfriend, and other life victories.
        Celebrating that makes sense to me.
        But in your case it’s almost like you suddenly popped open the door to the blog room and said “HA! Look at all these wonderful things I have. In your face, fuckers.”

  98. Everyone has a right to be here. Guru you are correct that it is your feeling. Barry has probably spent less time talking about himself than anyone else. I have said this to you before about other situations but I will say it again. What others have takes nothing away from you. Deep down I don’t think you have come to terms with that. Do you really think Barry sits around planning ( every 6 months) to mention something good in his life because he knows it will upset you ? Gretchen

    • Guru says:

      If “What others have takes nothing away from you.” means very little and completely aside from the point in my book.
      If I walk into an alleyway filled with poor folks and said to them, “HA! See? I’m a millionaire! LOOK! LOOK AT MEEEE!”
      Now it doesn’t take away anything from the poor alleyway residents, but what it DOES do is make those poor folks feel worse about themselves and the deprivations they may be personally suffering from.

  99. Do you really know anything about Barry’s life ? Why don’t you think about what you are really mad at ? G.

    • Guru says:

      Gretchen and Margaret, it’s clear to me you’re wanting to close ranks around Barry, so there’s not much point in my carrying this further except to remain with my original belief.
      One other thing I will add, is that Gretchen asked earlier why I didn’t protect Barry when Renee called him an ‘asshole’. Calling someone an ‘asshole’ in response to taunting falls under the definition of reactive abuse, to make the abused look just as bad as the abuser, so that’s why I viewed it as more acceptable in that case.

      • Guru says:

        Don’t get me wrong, calling someone an ‘asshole’ is never nice, but it’s a bit more understandable when said in a defensive manner (reactive abuse).

  100. Yes that would be bad but no one here has done that. G

    • Guru says:

      Well forget the money part, but rather to me it’s like someone from a mysterious source sauntering into a war-torn alleyway, strolling by rows of dejected homeless, occasionally leaning down to a homeless scrub here and there saying, “Look at me! I have a beautiful, happy, healthy nuclear family you will likely never have. I’ve also done well in life in ways you may never achieve” and then just merrily walking away to mysterious destinations unknown.
      So yeah after awhile with repeated alleyway visits, it feels as though there is a definite taunting quality to it. It cumulatively builds resentment in me with repeated applications.

      • Guru says:

        Patrick once referred to this blog as a ‘mental health ghetto’ and it rested well in my brain, hence the war-torn alleyway reference.

  101. Margaret says:

    my sailing friend is so far just that, or even not quite.
    I am making a conscious effort to appreciate and respect him for what he really is, and enjoying what is good. that has not been and might not be easy, as it takes having to adjust my hopes and needs continually and seeing my frustration as not about his flaws , of not loving me enough as a manner of speaking, but as my own projected needs and exaggerated expectations.
    it takes to be vigilant of oneself and looking some sadness and pain straight in the face when necessary at times instead of getting stuck in resentment.
    Also, this xmas time has been very difficult for me, being stuck on my own, my family and friends all being taken up in their own festivities .
    remember how I mentioned that I had the optiion to stay stuck in a victim role while blaming them for not being caring enough and insensitive to my needs, or taking initiative to improve my own life by initiating the ‘open house’.
    this coming monday one female fellow volunteer will come over to my place, so nothing has been easy, flu and Corona getting in the way for example , so well, nothing is easy and it takes loads of persistence at times.
    so your feelings are not unfamiliar to me, but I hope you can feel your way through them and discover Barry is not at all the problem, he did not really boast at all, even though to you it might have felt that way due to your own pain and frustration.
    for me seeking all kinds of practical support and emotional support from wherever possible make the process of improving my life easier.
    just yesterday I was feeling lost and getting depressed , practical matters sabotaging my life big time, our local government digital web being hacked and getting out of order, my taxi cheques becoming unavailable, my other means of volunteer support for a while also getting out of order, helpers and me getting the flu…
    what helped?
    starting to call around and sending messages , activating whoever I could think of and reaching out for help and support.
    that is so crucial, to keep working on creating or improving a social circle, continuously, and to take initiatives.
    I hope you find your ways, with sympathy, Margaret

    • Guru says:

      Margaret, not to worry that I overlooked your post. I read it pretty quickly even though my response is delayed until now. In principle I certainly agree with you that life is hard, takes loads of persistence, and we need to reach out for supportive people however we can.
      Just so you know I do have a few regular friends and I’m on good terms with my cousins, so even though I’m rather reclusive it’s not as bad as the Unabomber in his self-built Montana forest shack.
      Thanks for trying to help in the best way you knew.

  102. Barry M says:

    A poignant post Margaret. Thank you.

  103. Daniel says:

    I did some soul searching, trying to see if any of what you wrote to Sylvia and in other recent comments sounds familiar. To avoid any bias, I tried to not go by my own feelings but by trying to recall how others have experienced me.

    I thought, has many people in the past felt like I’m angry at them? No, outside the occasional loss of temper, not really. Have people in the past felt and told me I’m trying to change them or take them on as a “project” to fix? Aside from having been attracted in my youth to ‘damsels in distress’ then no, not to my recollection (and anyway, I have never felt you to be one). Have many people felt like I’m rejecting them? Absolutely not, I’m known to have very wide margins of acceptance.

    Over the years some of my patients have felt my style of listening to them to be somewhat aloof and have felt angry or desperate about it. My wife and some of my colleagues feel I have been procrastinating too often. My sister once said to me that she feels like I don’t really need anybody (which kind of shocked me but I never heard again from anybody). Some have told me I hide my competitiveness.

    Had any of these were raised by you, Renée, they would have resonated with what I have heard from others in the past and so would have to command my attention and consideration. But you have not. Instead, you have raised issues that there is no real external consensus about.

    And speaking of reality, would you please look at two of our recent clashes? First was my recent historical Vespasian comments, the kind of which I do from time to time on the blog. It was you who immediately replied angrily, not me. In the process you also misrepresented my beliefs and words.

    The one before that was a comment of mine regarding the American obsession with abortions. Again, it was you who replied angrily and sarcastically to me, not me to you.

    How are those two examples where you clearly was the one picking the fight commensurate with “the relentlessness and intensity of [my] investment in trying to change [you]”? Furthermore, how are they consistent with your attempts to, “avoid feeling rejected and the fear of being punished”? They are not.

    For the record, you are right that I respond strongly to the Israel/Palestine issue. It’s not even the issue per se, but your hateful and extremely radical attitude toward Israel, without even a glimpse of trying to be fair-minded, nor of trying to study the issue. If you remember I had similar responses to David and an even stronger ones to Patrick around such matters.

    For the record, I also responded strongly when in the same hateful and radical mindset you attacked Freud, sharing a clip claiming he is responsible for the death of millions(!!), stating yourself his entire oeuvre is based on a lie, turning him into a crook whose work is a fraud to be dismissed. You have done the same with attacking Joseph Breuer, claiming he not only sexually abused his patient Anna O., thus repeating an abuse which you also accused Anna’s father of committing, but that to cover his criminal acts he admitted her to asylums – all without even a single shred of evidence for any of it. Perhaps in Social Justice circles this is ordinary talk, and you compete with each other who will better speak evil of white men/Israel/the US/Freud, etc. as a currency of affection and smarts. But in my world, this isn’t ordinary talk at all, it is extreme aggression in an effort to bring about destruction. All in the name of justice of course.

    As an aside I must say, there is a silver lining. You have recently been using the word “projection”, more than once. This word and concept are wholly Freudian, taken right from the centre of his theory, which in the past you claimed was based on lies, and is at the heart of his move from the seduction theory to his study of phantasy, which you have so maligned.

    Your comments – though in my opinion are self-revealing more than you care them to be – repeatedly show what I meant when I wrote that you will not accept anything new, anything which is not already within your conscious self-knowledge. This is why I think some of what I say to you, as well as Guru’s observation, is not so much off-putting or unhelpful as it is simply unpleasant. Feeling, for example, that your autopilot is about getting stuck trying to be heard, or about trying to avoid feeling rejected and fearing punishment, is not new to you, is it? On the contrary, it is a familiar place.

    New knowledge might, for example, take Guru’s observation and what I wrote about how I feel when interacting with you, or in this comment how it was you entering an argument with me, rather than the other way around, and look at the possibility that what you are stuck in is not trying to be heard but rather trying not to be heard. Likewise, your autopilot may not be set to avoid feeling rejected and the fear of punishment, but rather the complete opposite – it is calibrated to bring on feelings of rejection and fears of being punished. It is as if from the facts of life you will select the elements that will evoke profound rejection, harrowing loneliness, extreme anxiety and endless rage. And this matrix of mental pain seems to have a life of its own.

    If any of this has any truth in it, I am sure it is a way of expressing something about your Primal pain which cannot be expressed in any other way. Perhaps these are feelings which originally didn’t even belong to you but now are relying on your ability to take the pain ingrained in them into yourself.

    Finally, contrary to what you believe, Renée, I wish you happiness and good luck in all that you do (with the exception of eliminating the Jewish state) and in your personal relationships.

    (Sorry for the length guys)

    • Guru says:

      Daniel, since you seem to place quite a lot of credibility in my observation about Renee, I might as well offer one more that’s not related to your dialogue with her. I’d probably regret throwing it away completely otherwise.

      It’s awkward for me to do for syntactic reasons of fiddling with pronouns, but I will address both of you:
      To Daniel/Renee:
      Something struck me when (she/you) (was/were) upset with Gretchen, telling her to stop the gaslighting and playing the blog commenter guys off on one another.
      I was vaguely reminded of something (she/you) said about (her/your) mother some weeks ago (12/23):
      “My mother felt overwhelmed by what she called “sibling rivalry” and, due to her own traumas, couldn’t provide any emotional support and didn’t like me needing this from her.”

      I just found it noteworthy how (she/you) (was/were) were angry at Gretchen for keeping things under tight control, carefully managing the blog crowd with a bit of skillful perceived gaslighting thrown in as an added control tool. This seemed to be the opposite of what (she/you) seemed to experience with (her/your) mother “overwhelmed” by sibling rivalry at an early age.

      It made me wonder whether (Renee/you) was angrily urging or struggling “symbolic mother hen Gretchen” to relinquish control over the blog crowd so as to repeat the early drama (Renee/you) once had with (her/your) mother.

      This is only amateur armchair psychoanalysis. I could be wrong about this as well I could be wrong about Barry. I say this as humbly as I can, yet I didn’t want to discard the extra observation altogether.

      ~Guru, Daniel’s Research Assistant

      • Guru says:

        To put it as succinctly as possible: I found it interesting how Renee tried to angrily break apart Gretchen’s tight reign of being a ‘puppet master’ on the blog, which was the polar opposite of the original dynamic of Renee’s struggling with her mother’s inability to be a more controlling ‘puppet master’.
        Towards what unconscious end that may serve, if any, is unknown to me and I could only offer a final speculative possibility in my previous post (2nd to final paragraph).

    • Renee says:

      Daniel, I’m glad you got to say this, if it will bring you some closure. I found it kind of funny to read. You’re continuing to try and change me. The only difference is that now you’re trying to convince me that you’re coming from a non-biased place! 🙂

      For my closure with you, rather than refute your comments, I wanted to share this video with you, and anyone else who is interested. I recently came across this interesting conversation between couple’s therapist, Esther Perel (who I love), and historian Yuval Noah Harari. They are discussing the issue of polarization with couples and with nations. Listening to Esther Perel talk about polarization with couples, I thought of our argument and how we’re stuck. See if you can see the connection. (On Polarization: Yuval Noah Harari and Esther Perel in Conversation).

      • Daniel says:

        Arguing with or having a perspective about you is not trying to change you. Not that I would even know how to go about it.

        It seems you have found no use for my words other than to amuse yourself. Good luck with all that.

        Thanks for the clip. I’ll watch it one of these days when I have the time and inclination, after I’ll watch the Britain/Palestine clip you shared some time ago.

        • Renee says:

          I’m sorry, Daniel. I just have a hard time taking advice from you because I don’t think you’re being honest with me or yourself about your motivations.

  104. Renee says:

    Ugg, I’ve been reflecting on your “amateur armchair psychoanalysis” of me but it isn’t resonating. I’ll keep thinking about it and let you know if that changes. By the way, I didn’t see myself as trying to “angrily break apart Gretchen’s tight reign of being a ‘puppet master'” with my post to her. For me the issue is not about Gretchen being controlling. It’s about her being in dual relationships when interacting with people on the blog, which is not okay. She is trying to be a fellow blogger and be in the role of a therapist at the same time. So her personal feelings are leaking out all over the place, depending on who she is talking to, how she feels about them, and whether she personally agrees with them or not, which is fine for being just a blogger. But she is also in a therapist role here. This is highly problematic, unprofessional and unethical. I hope this clarifies things.

    • Guru says:

      OK Renee, that fine. That’s cool. Even if you tell me my “amateur armchair psychoanalysis” is total bunk bullshit that’s OK, I can deal with that pretty easily. Just responding and letting me know that is miles better than not responding at all, which for me tends to hurt a lot more. So thanks for letting me know the real score.

  105. Renee says:

    No problem, Ugg. I actually meant it when I said that your “armchair psychoanalysis” didn’t resonate but it might at another time. I also need to tell you that I might not always respond to you. I’m now very busy with work and other stuff now. If I don’t respond to you and/or others, please don’t worry. And please know that I’m okay.

    Also, I don’t think I let you know how much I liked these comments of yours from a past post: “Renee’s writings and my own writings seem more crispy, chirpy, and efficient like snapping apart a stalk of celery. Barry seems to have more of a biting, gristle-filled, slovenly writing style out for the kill”. It’s such a refreshing, creative and poetic way of sharing your experience of what you’ve read! I love it!! I hope you continue to feel free to express yourself this way, even if others might not like it.

    • Guru says:

      Renee, I have to admit this still feels terribly tragic when you say Gretchen is ‘highly problematic, unprofessional, and unethical’. Those are burning some serious bridges and I feel terribly bad seeing this, wishing I knew what the hell is going on with such animosity overall.
      Although I do like you I could never really say those things about Gretchen. She’s done an awful lot through the years trying to help me without asking anything in return, so yeah it really sucks to see such a battle going on that I don’t fully understand.
      I’d prefer being a neutral peacemaker (which I tried and failed to be back in the Jack and Patrick days). Picking and choosing sides in battle doesn’t seem therapeutic.

      • Renee says:

        Ugg, you misunderstood me. I didn’t say that Gretchen was ‘highly problematic, unprofessional, and unethical”. I said her behavior here on the blog is. And I explained why. FYI, she did an awful lot through the years to help me as well, yet that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t be called out if her behavior is not okay. Otherwise, we run the risk of developing a cult-like mentality. By the way, therapists are human with strengths, weaknesses, talents and problems just like the rest of us! It is our need for them to be perfect mommies and daddies that makes it hard to acknowledge that and makes it hard to hear anything negative said about them.

  106. Phil says:

    Yesterday I visited my younger son and told him about the impending divorce. It surprised him but he seemed more concerned about me than himself in this situation. He seemed less upset than his brother, really hardly upset at all, which surprised me.
    It’s been over a week and there’s been no more discussion about divorce and lawyers with my wife. She hasn’t brought it up again, and I don’t want to because I really don’t want it to happen, yet we’re stuck with this poor relationship, or really no relationship at all. I have some ideas to tell her when she does bring up divorce again, about how to do it, but again, it just isn’t what I want. What I want is to heal our relationship, and save our marriage, even if it hasn’t been ideal, but there’s no sign that can happen. So, we’re left with this strange situation where she wants divorce but hardly pushes for it. The last big feelings I had related to being punished, which is what this feels like. My mother was quite punishing, I have painful memories of being spanked and abandoned, and then eventually permanently abandoned by her. My feelings visited this more deeply than ever before. Of course, even after that kind of punishment I still badly wanted and needed my mother, the main point of my feelings, but over time shut myself off from her, even forgetting what she was like, as she forgot and abandoned me. This situation with my mother went on for a very long time, too long. I need some kind of resolution to the current situation, something which will feel good, but that’s unlikely.

    • Guru says:

      I just want everybody to get along and like everybody else. Phil and his wife, Renee and Gretchen, Renee and Daniel. and even myself and Barry. Nobody hurts anybody else, and everybody likes everybody else. A true hippie commune with free love and flowers. Make love not war. Why can’t it be this way? What’s stopping us?

      • Phil says:

        What about your neighbors Guru, would they be invited too?

        • Guru says:

          God, Phil, I had such a beautiful peacemaking scenario blossoming in my mind and your inner evil genius ruined it for me now.

          • Phil says:

            Thanks for the compliment Guru! I guess that means you like me.

            • Guru says:

              As far as I know I don’t remember us ever having any serious personality clashes, no. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve never remembered you seriously battling anyone on the blog in spite of the extremely difficult impasse you’re facing at home right now.

  107. Daniel says:

    Guru, unfortunately my cinematic associations to two of your comments were place way up there in the blog feed. I meant them to be here. Since they are responses to comments of your I hope you get to them.

    • Guru says:

      Daniel, yes I did see your post and the very thin video screen about the “cuckoo clock”
      –The video seems to suggest the blog should become a more violently angry place in order to create great new inventive posts to stimulate the mind. Else, under a ‘democracy’ (more bloggers including Renee) we end up with trifling stuff such as the ‘cuckoo clock’. This is not my opinion, but simply how I interpreted the message of the video clip.
      –I knew my observation about Renee’s interaction with Gretchen would be highly speculative, with a high probability of being a worthless dud (failure). It was worth the small chance of being a smashing success and deeply therapeutic for Renee (high risk/high reward). I would have regretted not sharing it more than sharing it, even though it didn’t resonate.
      It was very much inspired by Janov’s way of thinking.

      I’ve learned from making many different little computer programs to scrape every last idea from my brain to see if there’s anything worthwhile. Even while most ideas are duds, many do lead to new ideas which might be better once I place an idea at work in software code.

  108. Margaret says:

    this reply is to your first reaction to my longer comment to you.
    you could noot have replied further beside my point.
    I was trying to be helpful to you, not joining any imaginary line of defense of Barry.

  109. Margaret says:

    you might not like what I will say, but I will do so anyway because I have experienced your caring and generous side, and hope my honest feedback can be of help, despite risking you becoming very angry at me.
    I did not like the way you talked about Gretchen, it sounded agressive and hurtful.
    even if you have differences of opinion I wonder what it is that makes me feel like you want to annihilate/crush/overpower Gretchen.
    of course only you can tell, but it makes me wonder if this stern attitude you adopted and the agression does reflect some behaviour your mother had and which you maybe involuntarily take over sometimes?
    I am sure that idea sounds very unpleasant to you, but I take the risk to bring it up as I don’t like to hear you in this way, unsubtle, dismissive and judgmental.

    • Guru says:

      Renee, I have to back up Margaret here a bit and say I still can’t shake the impression that you and Gretchen are very angry at each other about something, and that it has been ongoing for quite some time. I could be wrong, though, I don’t know.

    • Renee says:

      Margaret, I am fine with what you’ve said to me and I’m not angry with you. I like and care about you and remember the times we got to hang out together with much fondness.

      I appreciate your feedback and am thinking about it. All I can say now is that I did not feel like I was being aggressive or hurtful in my words to Gretchen. I felt I was being straightforward and respectful. I don’t know why you feel that I want to annihilate/crush/overpower Gretchen. I don’t. Maybe you just feel protective of her and don’t like to hear anything negative said to her unless it is done in a very subtle and “walking on eggshells” kind of way.

      I feel protective of you, Margaret. I want you (and others) to feel free to say positive and caring things to/about me without having Gretchen attack you for it and turn you against me. And I don’t think it’s okay for her to condone, support and defend people who express negative feelings towards me. This is not the first time this has happened. It happened a few years ago here too. This is what I meant about Gretchen’s personal feelings leaking out all over the place. As I said before, it is unprofessional and unethical, not to mention an abuse of her power as a therapist.

      As for old feelings, your suggestion is interesting. There might be some truth to it, but it’s not resonating with me now. When I have more time, I’ll share with you what I see my old feelings to be about, connected to a trauma history of being silenced (one of many underlying issues that I believe Gretchen and I share) and how this history shows up in my adult life.

  110. Margaret says:

    how are you doing?
    this will probably be a difficult day for you with your son leaving. thinking of you.

  111. Margaret says:

    how are you doing?
    this will probably be a difficult day for you with your son leaving. thinking of you..

  112. Margaret says:

    how are you doing?
    this will probably be a difficult day for you with your son leaving. thinking of you.

    • Phil says:


      No, him leaving isn’t difficult, his life is in LA right now and that’s where he needs to be. I’m not doing well but it doesn’t have to do with my sons. Telling them about my situation wasn’t courageous, as you mentioned in another message, it’s just something which needed to be done. I feel sad that we won’t have an intact family for the future.


  113. Daniel says:

    You need not tire or falter if someone does not accept your observation, speculative as it is. It seems that although your words did not resonate with Renée she neither rejected them outright and even said she would give it more thought. That’s something. Perhaps a fruit-bearing tree will grow where you have planted a seed.

    When I was in therapy, Barry Bernfeld once made a point by giving an example: if someone in therapy learns that he loves geology but became a dentist just to please his parents, that is an important insight. Now the question remains, what will that person do with that newly gained knowledge? Will he or she change professions? Dig deeper into a false existence? Have a breakdown? Accept the limitations of life and perhaps develop a hobby to nourish the true self?

    Over the years that example stayed with me, taking on, losing, and changing shapes. Although Barry described it in simple terms of how a person uses his or her own insights, for me today that became to include how that person will use all that he or she is presented with, including what is presented by others.

    This very much informs the way I work with people. There is the content of what is said, and there is also how the person is using what is said. Today, I no longer need a patient to agree with what I say. More important is that, like in Barry’s example, he or she will do something with it. In other words, the gauge is that whatever is exchanged between the participants furthers and enables the process toward feeling primal pain and thinking the thoughts of life, not the explicit agreement.

    There is much to say about all this but since I want to keep it short

    • Guru says:

      Daniel, OK I think I see why you’re bringing this up. I mistakenly applied ‘financial market based’ thinking (immediately falsifiable success/failure) towards the Gretchen/Renee example rather than ‘human social sciences’ manner of thinking towards new ideas (a wide range of possible adaptations by the other party to your new idea).

      • Guru says:

        All of this, including my original presentation of the idea to Renee, has emphasized the importance of personal ‘eg0 attachment’ to ideas. If an idea has been carefully cultivated from a body of one’s life work, that person might be hurt more if the idea is rejected or shown to be a failure. If the idea is more flippantly contrived from a secondary hobby, the ‘ego attachment’ may not be as strong and won’t be nearly as hurtful if shown as wrong or rejected.
        In other words, how much of an ’emotional stake’ one has in an idea is a rich area of discussion here, maybe….

        Fortunately with the Renee/Gretchen idea I didn’t have a strong ‘ego attachment’ to it. More like, “Hey, this seems intriguing, but it’s easily disposable if it doesn’t pan out (or in the social science milieu, if what the person does with the idea is mostly shrug it off).”

        As a result of this discussion, I will try to lighten up the emotional investment in my core suite of ideas away from the blog (which, interestingly, can serve as an incubator for new ideas I haven’t yet thought of).

        I do become extremely discouraged/depressed when I see cherished ideas not work well. It kills my motivation for weeks afterwards, and then I just…..survive.

        • Phil says:

          Guru, what I was wondering after reading this is, why is it so important to you to have ideas?

          • Guru says:

            Phil, your question is not a bad one, though I don’t feel ready to take it on at this time. Maybe a bit later, though. Just remind me later & I’ll try again.

  114. Primal Community, Recently I have once again seen the value of the Primal community first hand. It really is pretty amazing. I am so impressed with the way in which so many of you come together to help others. That is why we began this blog. We wanted to create a forum for those interested in Primal to connect and speak freely. From the beginning we have made it clear that this is a discussion group and not a place to get therapy. I am not sure it’s even possible to do therapy on a blog but if it is I would not attempt it. Recently I have seen some toxic behavior here that has given me pause as to whether this is possible even as a community forum. First, I absolutely will defend the right of others to say who they like or dislike. I will defend the right to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions and I will point out that is the purpose of a blog or a forum. I will also defend the rights of those who want to suggest they prefer things be said in a different way. It is all fair in my opinion. We can not control how others feel and express themselves. We also can not cry about being silenced while trying to silencing others. If you want to be on a blog where the rule is that you must only say what others want to hear you are in the wrong place. Luckily there are many places to choose from. People here have spent their lives fighting to be real with each other. I do support that completely. As I said in a previous post let’s make an effort to actually read what others say before responding. There might be less misunderstanding. I have concerns as well about the weaponizing of words. The use of certain key words, often politically correct verbiage meant to shut others up. Bully , racist, unethical, I could go on, it may indeed shut them up but solves nothing in the end. The guessing or assumptions made or creating of possible scenarios involving others strikes me as particularly unhelpful. You can throw enough things at a wall in the hope that you guess right but in the end it goes nowhere. I think most people here prefer to simply be asked what we feel rather than have wild speculation. The Primal community is a diverse group. We all are very different with our own view of the world. I can not imagine anything further from a cult than this group of people. The perfect example of this would be the recent debates involving Covid and vaccines. There were as many opinions as there were people . This is something I celebrate. Personally I have no time or interest in getting any of you to like or dislike other members of the Primal community. Not only does that imply something like that would have any importance to me but that all of you are weak minded mush with no ability to form an opinion. Also a reminder… you can disagree without it being about disliking the other person. Lastly the scenario of me as puppet master with a maniacal need to control the blog is a bit of a stretch to say the least. I actually participate very little and only when I feel it’s important that I intervene . Some of the time I have been asked to say something, more often than not I will. Still, people are free to say they don’t like me or the therapy or Art or Viv if they like. Nothing is censored. If I had any life advice it would be to look at yourself first before focusing on the business of others. I don’t know if a blog can work at this point. It seems like some real ugliness inevitably begins to surface but I am still hopeful that it can. Gretchen

    • Daniel says:

      Gretchen, am I misreading your last paragraph or are you seriously considering shutting down the blog?

      If so, than I guess you are sensing a wide-spread problem rather than a local one. Is that so?

      Not even in the days of Patrick and his racist ideational delights coupled with sincere and brutal insults at Jack, did you seem to despair of the blog itself.

      I’ve had my fair share of speculating recently, so I’ll give it a rest.

      Seems like Guru’s observation regarding Renee is again taking shape right now on the blog. If she decided to go – that’s one thing, but I wouldn’t want to drive her away.

      • Guru says:

        Daniel, maybe it’s a form of poker game brinksmanship on Gretchen’s part?

        Margaret brought up Renee trying to ‘annihilate’ Gretchen, so Gretchen raised the stakes, flirting with the possibility of ‘annihilating’ everything blog related?
        The poker equivalent would be an ‘all-in’ raise against your opponent?

      • Hi Daniel, I think I was just struck by how giving and wonderful the Primal community can be ( and how lucky we are to have it ) juxtaposed with the ugliness that can sometimes come up on the blog. But that is the reality of life at times isn’t it ! Also it’s not just a problem on our blog. Based on what I have read this may be a problem that many blogs and forums experience. Something about the safety of lurking behind a computer. I do think it’s useful to have some guidelines and to stay focused on what we need to discuss about ourselves. I do believe this will likely always be a place where most people are direct and I like that. We can all choose to be here or not and especially during Covid it has been a nice place to visit for some of us. Guru, I don’t play poker ! Daniel, you are mad smart ! Gretch

        • Guru says:

          Since your words ‘Daniel, you are mad smart!’ are ensconced in an authoritative light blue box outline as opposed to the nondescript, milquetoast backgrounds the rest of us must employ, should we carry in our hearts that we are dumber than Daniel?

        • Barry M says:

          Gretchen, just like Sylvia out-googles me about cats v dogs, you out-compliment me with respect to Daniel. Yes, he is mad smart to the MAX. Damn, I wish I’d come up with that. Guru, you should carry it in your heart, liver, pancreas, lymph nodes and gut, you are WAY dumber than Daniel.
          BUT I do have a question for him. Daniel, you suggested that a fruit tree may grow where Guru tossed a seed that Renee didn’t immediately reject. Dude, you’ve been plowing furrows, hoeing, seeding and working that field for years and have yet and probably won’t ever reap a harvest. Whatever Renee decides to do or not do, you are NOT the cause. You have only ever tried to help her but she just refuses to take anything in.
          As my Dad was want to say in his cockney accent, “Some people are never ‘appy unless they’re bloody miserable.”

          • Phil says:

            Barry, when you plant seeds sometimes weeds come up or nothing at all. I have a co-worker who loves plants and there are quite a few in our office. I eat an apple every day as part of my lunch and decided to try to sprout the seeds. Someone else had an avocado growing. One of my seeds did sprout but died when I transferred it to a pot. But I kept trying by planting them directly and finally this week I have what I believe are two granny smith apple seedlings coming up. So, sometimes you have to keep trying.

            • Barry M says:

              Phil, just one of the things I really like about you is that you can always be depended upon to be so Phil-ish. You are one of the many reasons that the Blog should remain in existence.

          • Daniel says:

            Guys you are embarrassing me.

            Barry, I’m optimistic that way. For me, major parts of the primal journey took place many years after I left the PI, while using much of what I heard and experienced there. So, anything that is said now can be used sometimes later. You never know.

            To be fair, my blog relationship with Renée did not begin with trying to help her but with arguing with her opinions and theories. Also, Renée was never mean to me or purposely tried to hurt me. And lastly, with obvious limits no one should be punished for his or her primal pain and the ways they try to protect themselves from it.

            In the meantime, my throat is sore and voice gone (= no livelihood). Can’t remember the last time I could not speak. If any of you wanted to shut me up you are half way there.

            • Barry M says:

              Don’t worry Daniel, the ‘pen is mightier than the vocal chords’ or something.

              You’re still probably 80 to 85% effective!

  115. Guru says:

    After reading Gretchen’s post down below, I must acknowledge that my own speculations of people I don’t even know may be grossly mistaken. Maybe my own speculations are a product of helpless anger on my part.
    I will gladly retract my own ‘wild speculations’ which may very well be untrue, perhaps I spoke prematurely about others and should focus more on my anger.

  116. Phil says:

    I hope the blog can continue. I sometimes find it helpful to report things here and connect with people.

  117. Guru says:

    I look at this blog as a semi-intimate therapeutic lifeline, ready and available to try to help anyone in times of need or stress. A bit like those emergency defibrillator machines you see hanging on walls, ready to use at a moment’s notice.

    To me it’s a casual, medically-oriented blog that is flexible enough to take in anyone’s emergency emotional needs as stated above.

    Over the years I’ve seen several Primally-aware and friendly people in desperate real world straits use this blog as a freely-available resource in search of someone who might be able to immediately help them. I could name several names as examples from years ago that most may not even remember.

    Although they often engage in fierce, internecine battles, when the chips are truly down on the table I see Gretchen, Daniel, and Renee as caring psychological medical professionals.

    They are mental battlefield nurses to me, a highly scarce human resource in a beautiful, but exceptionally dangerous world hopelessly riddled with deep collective psychological scars where their services are faced with never-ending need.

    So yeah, I think the blog should remain forever as a medically-inclined retreat for the comfortable (including Barry) and sanctuary for the afflicted.

    • Guru says:

      I had better quickly replace ‘fierce, internecine battles’ with ‘contentious debates among themselves’, sorry. I realize I could be called to task, technically, by my usage of the first term.

      That’s beside my general point of believing this blog should remain open as a sanctuary where anyone inclined can meet and even try to heal themselves.

      • Guru says:

        Even my usage of ‘contentious debates among themselves’ may not be a fair term in the eyes of Gretchen and Daniel, for they seem to view Renee as the troublemaker overall. (at least from what I’m seeing).

        Renee, I’m not so sure if it’s wise to verbally shoot at your fellow battlefield nurses, as scarce as they are in a gravely dangerous world. If everything is destroyed there will be no nurses left for the maimed soldiers in the trenches. Then what will we do?

  118. Jo says:

    I like what you said Gretch.

    Here is a link to Anderson Cooper’s “All there is”; Leslie sent it to me as she knows I am affected by recent grief. I’ve found to be helpful and fascinating, as has my son who’s dad died when he was 11, (like prince Harry, who I have much empathy for).. It resonates with anyone who has suffered the loss of someone close.

  119. Guru says:

    Let me go ahead and replace ‘nurse’ with ‘medic’ in all of my posts above, lest anyone feels offended by errantly placed technicalities.

  120. Renee says:

    Daniel, Ugg, and anyone else interested, I’m here. I’ve just been reflecting of Gretchen’s response to my simply asking that she stop letting her personal feelings towards me leak out because it’s unprofessional and unethical. She seems to have interpreted my very legitimate request as me trying to silence her. I think her whole post can be narrowed down to one primal feeling being screamed out: “Renee, you can’t silence me!” A classic example of ‘right feeling, wrong station,’ in my opinion. This might not be a problem if she was just a blogger, but when you’re in the role of a therapist you have the added responsibility to behave within certain boundaries.

    • Larry says:

      Renee, my experience of you, from when on my trips to LA for retreats and we spent time together, whether at a retreat or visiting outside of one, is that whenever a strain arose in our relationship you were extremely prone to misinterpreting me and not willing or bothering to find out from me my feelings or meaning underpinning the behaviour of mine that you misinterpreted. On the last occasion this happened, about a decade ago, you insisted that you knew better than I did about my meaning behind what I said or did at the time that distressed you so much. It hurt me a lot that you would not take the trouble to consider my explanation of what was going on in me and the cause of the behaviour that you misinterpreted. From what I can see of recent interactions on the blog, you are sill doing that with Gtetchen. From your explanations about your childhood, I undetstand why you so readily misinterpret and blame others for how you feel. I feel that such a filter through which you interpret and insist you understand the behaviour of other people in your life withoit trying to find out from them what’s really going on with them makes it really hard to know or be with you unless you happen to be in a very good mood at the time. You are smart and most likely know all this. I’m giving you this feedback in the hope it might be helpful, as to what I’m seeing happen here between you and Getchen.

      • Renee says:

        Larry, I appreciate you sharing your experience of me. I am always looking to grow emotionally (just not physically 🙂), and if feedback is presented in a respectful and kind way, I find it very valuable. Would you be interested in talking on the phone sometime? I wanted to discuss some of the specifics of your memories of me that you describe here but I’d rather not do it on the blog.

        • Larry says:

          Renee, I’d be interested to chat with you on the phone sometime, mostly to catch up and hear how you are doing. As to addressing specifics of what I posted on the blog recently of my last memorable interaction with you, we can do that if you like. I still have your email address from 10 years or so ago, so we should be able to email back and forth to find a time that works for a phone call.

    • Guru says:

      Renee, I’m starting to wonder if you might be feeling any external financial pressures away from this blog? Those can be exceptionally cruel and unrelenting sources of stress that never seem to go away for people who really don’t deserve such mental torment. Such things have my full sympathy.

      It left me wondering if perhaps you might have been frustrated that Gretchen’s therapy clinic couldn’t be of more substantive help for such external issues and you might want to lash out at her as a result?

      I have more speculative thoughts based on a few things I happen to know, but I will refrain from going further since my entire premise may be incorrect.

  121. Guru,Where do these theories come from? Poker like strategies, cat and dog fights, financial woes etc ? Does it concern you at all that throwing these theories out there is a tad irresponsible? At times you repeat these things as if they have magically become fact. For the record we have always helped those with financial issues. I think that is a non issue but you can ask. As for silencing I do think there are times when members of the blog feel silenced. I do think the use of certain key words are meant to shut people up. My aim is to make it clear that you can speak freely all the while remembering that some might react. That is the risk. But I have never been one of those who felt I could not speak. I have never been accused of silence lol! However were I ever to be silenced in my adult life I would have to take responsibility for that. Yes as children we can be controlled but we are not children and hopefully we make the effort to deal with our past issues. So no victims here. As an aside Margaret said to me recently that the blog was self correcting. I have thought about that and I like to think that is true. G.

    • Guru says:

      Gretchen, I’m not saying you or the Institute won’t directly help those with financial issues. What I meant was people might be frustrated that the therapy didn’t help them claw out of any possible financial pressure on their own (ie. “Why didn’t therapy help me be creative enough to become rich?”).

      Maybe it was a mistake for me to wonder about this in Renee’s case, I could be wrong, so maybe I owe Renee a presumptive apology for that. I will try to practice more responsible theory crafting and theory throwing in the future.

      I do know from personal experiences what dark pressures poverty and trying to keep up with bills every month can bring, so again such issues have all my empathy.

      • Renee says:

        Ugg, that was weird. I’m not sure why Gretchen needed to intervene when you posted a message to me. And I’m not sure why she needed to be so critical of you speculating. We all do it! In fact, I would say that you sometimes take speculating to a whole new and advanced level! I hope that Gretchen’s comments to you don’t make you feel bad about using this skill in the future. Perhaps she is just jealous that you have the ability to speculate in an honest and straightforward manner and then to just ask me if any of it is accurate. So refreshing and clear. To answer your question, I am not experiencing financial stress or pressure. But I know that this has been a significant stressor for you at times in your life. Is it still currently a big issue for you?

        • Leslie says:

          Renee – this is getting dangerous now – whereby your anger spills throughout.
          Somehow, you are always able to be both the victim and hero…
          Ugg – although you might like what you take as a compliment the advice is misguided. One of my biggest milestones in Primal Therapy and for life was to not second guess, thinking I knew better than the person talking as to what they were really saying. I had myself so tangled in a web of delving deeper than what the other person was saying…This was especially true with Barry and caused such havoc. Hard work yes – but the relief to both of us when I truly listened to what Barry had to say, and stayed with that, was gargantuan!
          So what – if he had more to explore…for right now this was how he felt and rather than going off and into the abyss of what he might be saying – to actually comfort or defend myself – I try to stay with & feel my true reaction.

        • Guru says:

          I’ve completely soaked in all of what Leslie, Renee, and Gretchen have said and it’s leaving me confused. Clearly my speculations of any financial pressure driving Renee’s actions were incorrect, so it’s best I step back and quiet down. This conflicting dialogue is above my personal pay grade now.
          Thank you everyone, for your input.

          • Renee says:

            This conflict is above your personal pay grade? I love you, Ugg!💗

            • Guru says:

              Renee, are you trying to elevate my naturally speculative frothiness to boiling over on a burning stovetop now? Thank you for your tender love message, however you meant for it to convey.

  122. Guru says:

    Even a roadside, limbless beggar donning a long scraggly beard and waving a cardboard sign pleading for help has an infinitely greater range of adventuresome life options available to him than a dead billionaire has. The bigger the climb, the harder the fall in the end.

    • Sylvia says:

      As they say, “you can’t take it with you.” I guess billionaires are mad about that.

      Roadside beggars maybe wear their signs around their necks, at least those asking for food, and the one or two that I’ve seen. I imagine the non-waving limb-challenged ones do too. The long scraggly beard you have right, and it’s sad to see the defeat, and no optimism in their eyes.

    • Barry M says:

      You’re obviously right Guru, but personally from how you describe him I don’t believe I would want to live in any one of those options.
      You’re right Sylvia, and that’s why I would find it hard sometimes to look them in the eyes. If I did though and managed to strike up a conversation I felt that that -and my sandwich- helped make their day. Yes, I do realize I might be doing it to make me feel good but if that’s the worst of my vices —

      • Guru says:

        Barry, you may not believe this…but I’ve read a couple of anecdotal reports where would-be suicide victims were literally talked out of killing themselves when their friends asked them, “Do you really want Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell to outlive you?” Yes, that sort of questioning prevented at least one or two suicides from what I read.

  123. Guru says:

    For a little while after Renee said “I love you” yesterday it left me scratching my head wondering to myself, “Why does this make me feel so awkward?”

    Some pieces finally clicked for me when I remembered Renee is able to speak several languages, along with her using Spanish frequently with Phil here on the blog. I know very little Spanish and only a smattering of French from high school and college. I just BARELY knew enough that Spanish speakers have a multitude of ways to express love.
    “Te Querer” the least romantic kind of “I love you” to friends or cousins
    “Te Quiero” a bit stronger, more towards close friends or non-married romantic partner
    “Te Amo” the closest kind of love for spouse or immediate family

    The English language is severely hampered in this respect, with only an all-inclusive “I love you” for ALL of the above situations. This can lead to feelings of awkwardness for native English speakers not well-versed in foreign languages, myself being a great example.

    Throughout my life I never really had much appreciation for foreign languages aside from a means to slog through schooling for decent grades. My life is boring, I’ve never set foot outside the US. If I had to pick a language to learn anew, I would start with Spanish.

    My brain is already bursting at the seams with domestic worries, so that project must be delayed, unfortunately.

    • Guru says:

      William James Sidis was a child prodigy with an IQ of 200 who graduated from Harvard at the age of 16.

      He could understand 90 different languages fluently, yet he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 46. I would venture to guess his brain finally exploded from storing too much knowledge.

      So I hope you can understand why I meant what I said when my brain is already bursting at the seams with domestic worries, and I should only approach foreign languages with the greatest of care now, especially since I’ve already chronologically outlived Mr. Sidis.

      • Guru says:

        Based on Mr. Sidis’ Wikipedia entry, it appears he “only” could be conversant in 25 languages, but I did read somewhere he had at least functional understanding of 90 languages (source uncertain, only from my memory).

        Anyway, yeah I want to take it easy on the foreign languages, though. Nice and easy, just focus on a smooth path for the here and now as much as possible. Go easy on my poor little brain.

  124. Margaret says:

    i think your first ‘te querer’ is not right, it is the same verb , but the general form, of ‘te queer’, which is the rorm of the verb used by ‘I’, like I love, as opposed to ‘to love’.
    the different meanings are possible like in English, where you have ‘I like you’, which can be loosely translate as ‘me gustas’.
    I am in love with you can be translated to estoy enamorado de ti
    for if you can use it with a nice Spanish speaking lady, you never know!

    • Guru says:

      Margaret, I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a nice adventure. I wouldn’t mind an eventual trip to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Too much of a distant dream for me right now, too many headwinds for me to face right here at home. Seems as though it’s been that way for me since time immemorial.

  125. Phil says:

    Guru, one source I just looked at mentions 267 synonyms of the word love in English, so there is no shortage of different ways to say it. For example like, adore, fancy, cherish, revere, dig, idolize, worship, dote on, etc.

    • Guru says:

      Phil, sure but that’s a bit beside the point. Renee specifically used the word ‘love’ and that’s what I had to work with. I personally only use the word when I conversed with my dad, and sometimes my cousins (my only family left), or maybe a possible romantic partner I’m serious about and have deep feelings for. So that’s why it felt awkward for me personally.

  126. Margaret says:

    oops, I notice I lost an ‘o’, it should be querer and quiero

  127. Phil says:

    You’re a multilinguist, which is admirable, I guess because of your small country. Do you have chances to use your Spanish?
    I have gone back to studying it even though my wife and I may end up parting. It’s a useful language to know here, of course, and widely spoken around the world.

    • Margaret says:

      I have always liked to learn new languages, specially when they are somehow linked to each other.
      French, Spanish, Italian and even to some degree English and German, and not to forget Portuguese, have all many words stemming from Greek or Latin origin. and some of Arabian, like ‘algebra’.
      the last time I was able to use some Spanish was with one of my Ukrainian neighbours, who was not good with English but turned out to be fluent in Spanish as he had lived in Barcelona for many years.
      at the sailing club sometimes some people speak French, and sometimes I even dream in English.
      with the classical singing classes I learned some Italian and still have a course laying ,audio, here somewhere I could continue.
      but when decades ago I tried to learn Swahili, while briefly working at the African faculty at the university, it was interesting but not easy as there are little to no links with languages I know.
      I also started a class of Japanese while studying philosophy but that was even harder as they have three different ways to write, and different ways to talk depending on who they adress, and well, it would even be difficult without that.
      I remember one word, and one ‘spelling’, ‘ta’, rice field, .
      Chinese also needs a certain tone of voice as well, the same word in another tone has an entirely different meaning…
      but yes, languages interest me, and knowing some of it can make a huge difference when traveling.
      good you plan to continue with the Spanish. how is your saxophone playing going?

      • Phil says:

        Margaret, I haven’t played my saxophone in months, but plan on getting back to it, maybe even this weekend. I guess I haven’t felt inspired with everything going on. I still have been going to shows, but not as often as before. Next weekend my son and I will go to a jazz concert focusing on Middle Eastern elements added to the compositions. It looks like it will be really good.

  128. Margaret says:

    I have always liked to learn new languages, specially when they are somehow linked to each other.
    French, Spanish, Italian and even to some degree English and German, and not to forget Portuguese, have all many words stemming from Greek or Latin origin. and some of Arabian, like ‘algebra’.
    the last time I was able to use some Spanish was with one of my Ukrainian neighbours, who was not good with English but turned out to be fluent in Spanish as he had lived in Barcelona for many years.
    at the sailing club sometimes some people speak French, and sometimes I even dream in English.
    with the classical singing classes I learned some Italian and still have a course laying ,audio, here somewhere I could continue.
    but when decades ago I tried to learn Swahili, while briefly working at the African faculty at the university, it was interesting but not easy as there are little to no links with languages I know.
    I also started a class of Japanese while studying philosophy but that was even harder as they have three different ways to write, and different ways to talk depending on who they adress, and well, it would even be difficult without that.
    I remember one word, and one ‘spelling’, ‘ta’, rice field, .
    Chinese also needs a certain tone of voice as well, the same word in another tone has an entirely different meaning…
    but yes, languages interest me, and knowing some of it can make a huge difference when traveling.
    good you plan to continue with the Spanish. how is your saxophone playing going?

  129. Guru says:

    Margaret, I see how you wrote to Phil about how you like to learn new languages. I wanted to just say I never had much enthusiasm for such a pursuit since I never traveled much and what would be the use for me? For me it only seemed to add unnecessary complexity to my earlier life which would be a useless additional weight diverting me away from critical issues I personally needed to know more about.

    In fact, my entire study of psychology from the very beginning feels as though it was only a response to an old emergency. Now I’m sort of stuck with it since my brain has veered off so far into right-hemisphere studies (creativity, social sciences) that there’s no real turning back to the more left-brain STEM studies my mother once pursued and would have encouraged me to follow.

    • Guru says:

      I remember how my sociology professor expressed a minor audible amazement at how brilliant I was in his class, yet it only felt like a minor travelling stepping stone to some serious answers I desperately and urgently needed that no one was telling me. I felt bad for the professor at the time since he seriously admired my work, yet the topic held relatively little intrinsic meaning to me. It was only a ‘tool’, a clue, an investigative lead towards understanding a very large problem impossible for me to grasp until a decade later.
      I don’t know why I need to clog the blog with all this now, I was just in a lot of strange very deep despair I couldn’t get a good handle on.

  130. Barry M says:

    O. M. G. guys, really??? You are all focusing on variations of the word love and not on the post in which it was used??? Wikipedia surely isn’t ‘us’. Maybe the end of the Blog is indeed nigh!!!!!

    • Guru says:

      I think I’d rather have the blog loaded down with a lot of perceived useless crap than to be a completely blank wasteland of zero information. I’ve seen all too well how ridiculously dangerous the latter can be.
      At least with a big pile of crap you still might find a nugget of gold buried deep within.

      • Sylvia says:

        I don’t think your comment was crap, Guru. I think it’s important to say how you feel and where your head is and what effect the ‘love you’ post had on you.
        Still, I think Barry’s post has value too since he saw an issue with the ‘love post’ itself, and is scratching his head like you, but for a different reason.

        I wanted to say that I can more freely use the ‘love’ word now that my feelings have poured out these past yrs., and I’m more open thanks to primal. Before, I remember when a new friend ended an email with, “love ya,” and I thought, oh, what does she mean? I wasn’t used to being so familiar. I couldn’t say it to family even except in a birthday card. It sounded so awkward. And it felt that if I did say it, all my feelings would come tumbling out of me in a cascade of tears. But now I can say it to a good friend and end an email with it. It’s so easy. Where it may be misinterpreted in emails, I am careful though, if I just mean it as a friend.

        Guru, in some of the European countries they kiss on the cheek when greeting a friend or maybe even an acquaintance (not sure about that–would have to ask Phil, the European traveler about that). That would be an adjustment for us Americans, wouldn’t it. A handshake or a touch on the arm at the most between men here, anyway.

        • Guru says:

          Sylvia, well you know me better than Renee does and you never gave me any ‘love you’ email salutation. Not that I was expecting one, but worth noting I think.
          At any rate, my frothy speculation boiling over on a burning stovetop speculation has run its course by now. Time to sit back and acknowledge I don’t have all the answers.

          • Guru says:

            (accidentally forgot to delete a duplicate ‘speculation’ word in sentence)

          • Renee says:

            Ugg, I just want to confirm that you have moved on. If you still want to know what I meant by my comment, “This conflict is above your personal pay grade? I love you, Ugg!”, let me know.

            • Guru says:

              Renee, well you picked a hell of a good way to start toying with my personal heart, for I only use “I love you” in a very restrictive sense. It seems pretty clear to me by now you use the phrase in a much more liberal fashion for a broader variety of situations, even though it led me to a lot of anxiously fraught uncertainty for a while. I’m ashamed to say I was too afraid to ask you for clarification right away, perhaps I should have.
              I needed to protect myself from too much of an emotional impact all at once regardless of what your explanation may have been, had I immediately asked you.
              OK, I’m ready to know exactly what you meant if you want to share.

              • Renee says:

                Ugg, my comment simply reflected my spontaneous appreciation of your comment. I found it so appropriate, simple and funny…. your humor and lightness were a breath of fresh air! Sometimes I think things can get way too serious here and people can take things way too personally, including myself. By the way, I can relate to you saying that you use “I love you” quite restrictively. When I grew up, I don’t remember anyone using that phrase, so it wasn’t part of my vocabulary, and, as a result, it never came easily. But I’m trying to use it more freely these days and it feels really good. I encourage you to try easing your restrictiveness. The only thing I felt a little bad about was that I didn’t quote you accurately. I think I might’ve been a little rushed when I wrote that comment. Sorry about that.

                • Guru says:

                  OK things have been clarified here, though I want to point out if you had said “I love (your funny comment)” instead of “I love YOU” replete with heart emojis, I would have shrugged my shoulders and thought, “cool ok, on to something else, then”

                  But…when you say “I love YOU” as a person on top of the heart emoji, I don’t think there’s anything wrong or amiss by my taking it very seriously at that point. It sends me into an obsessive tailspin of ruminations (as seen here these past few days) because that can represent life-altering potential.

                  Going out and telling a bunch of casual friends or acquaintances “I love you” tends to cheapen the meaning of the phrase. It dilutes its power. Constantly churning out “I love you” to everyone outside the family or those cherished the most reduces the meaning of the phrase to a slightly icky and verbally promiscuous impersonal factory assembly line for me.

                  I do pass around “I like you’s” or even “I like you a lot” pretty freely, though.

                  My family of origin (mostly my dad’s since mom’s was largely gone) had perhaps weekly “I love you’s”, hugs, and kisses. Scarce enough to really mean something, but not nonexistent.

                  I do have some significant lingering questions as to whether your frequent adjustments towards jovial non-seriousness when challenged about something can serve as a defense. You seemed extremely serious when you went after Gretchen with being ‘unethical’ and other harsh words, you expected her to take you seriously then, didn’t you?

                  So when you write that you love ME (not the comment) along with the heart emoji, it does make it hard for me not to take it seriously.

    • Phil says:

      Barry, your comment still didn’t address the one where love was mentioned, so I guess you’re part of the problem, if there is one. But I don’t think there is.

      • Barry M says:

        Ouch Phil, you fire and brimstone spewing devil you! 🙂 Nice try, but I know your true nature. Yes, you have a point, but I just didn’t feel I should directly call out everything I see and instead do as Gretchen reminded us & look inwards. Good stuff that.

  131. Guru says:

    Speaking of scarcely found nuggets of gold buried deep within the pile of verbiage..
    I suddenly remembered Sylvia’s suggestion from weeks ago that vegetarians need to boost vitamin B12 intake, perhaps along with others of the B-complex.
    I still struggle a lot with tightly repetitive thoughts as a comforting crutch so maybe the vitamin B’s will help out.

  132. Guru says:

    I wrote a week ago to Phil how watching a lot of videos about all aspects of narcissism helped me to better understand what I was dealing with regarding my predator neighbor. One of these narcissism experts is Stephanie Lyn, and it just so happened the exact day (yesterday) when Leslie discussed the possible perils of my ruminating and speculating getting in the way of therapy Ms. Lyn broke away from her usual repertoire of narcissism related topics and released a new video “How to stop ruminating”.

  133. Leslie says:

    Some good points in the video! Thanks for posting Guru.

  134. Guru, That was a brave question to ask ! Gretchen

    • Guru says:

      I really, truly took the prospect seriously that Renee loved me for a couple days based on how she wrote it out. I’m just glad my brain can rest again from rumination overdrive now.

      • Larry says:

        God Guru! I think that was courageous of you to share that.

        • Guru says:

          Jesus, you and Gretchen are actually starting to scare me a bit. Why is what I wrote so courageous? I don’t see how it’s beyond the run-of-the-mill. Is Renee affiliated with some violent group I don’t know about?

          • Guru says:

            I think it’s reasonable to assume Renee is not affiliated with such elements, and I have much scarier things I’m going to need to deal with fairly soon than this. It would be much scarier to have a bone graft or other major surgery. This story with Renee turned out to be an amusing mishap in the end, from what I can see.

          • Barry M says:

            It’s courageous because you are being real and vulnerable at the same time.

            • Guru says:

              Barry, I understand you don’t personally like Renee while my feelings have always been a mildly positive form of liking her. Things only went awry in the sense I was led to believe that Renee was possibly falling in love with me. It didn’t mean I was falling in love with her, though I would have left open the possibility of that for later if she really did love me now.
              I simply like her pretty much the same level as before. Not much changed for me except a bit of deflated disappointment. Easily recoverable.

              I still appreciate the reasons why people can often be frustrated with her. I’m not overlooking that.

              • Barry M says:

                An ‘amusing mishap’ and ‘a bit of deflated disappointment’? Guru, I think you are vastly under-valuing your feelings. Recoverable, maybe, but easily?

                • Guru says:

                  The only thing I can add here, Barry, is that I can see more clearly why others can be frequently irritated by Renee. I felt that same sense of irritation, too, considering the weirdly mistaken path my brain went on for a couple days.
                  I’ve only met her a couple times in person and you seem to know her significantly more than I do, so my reservoir of feeling is not going to run deep here.
                  The reason I still have some positivity towards her is that she’s always been kind and polite to me overall despite her flighty inconsistency, and that she seems to think I’m funny.
                  Other than that all the documents have been signed, sealed, and delivered.

  135. Renee says:

    Ugg, thanks for explaining how you took my comment. I’m sorry I disappointed you. It is a good reminder that once our words hit the page/screen, they are open to interpretation by the reader. I think it was you, Larry, who said, a while ago, that none of us really experiences reality as it actually is. We interpret it through our past experiences of life”. So true! The idea that there is some objective and neutral truth when it comes to human beings is a myth, in my opinion. Also, it is not unusual for me to have a different interpretation of something I’ve written when I read it again, days, weeks or months later.

    With regard to your comment about your “significant lingering questions as to whether your frequent adjustments towards jovial non-seriousness when challenged about something can serve as a defense. You seemed extremely serious when you went after Gretchen with being ‘unethical’ and other harsh words, you expected her to take you seriously then, didn’t you?” Maybe there’s truth in my using humor as a defense. At the same time, I do believe that sometimes things can get way too serious here and people can take things way to personally, including myself. The key word for me in this sentence is “sometimes”. I didn’t say “always”. I was indeed serious when I said that Gretchen’s behavior on the blog was unethical due to her dual relationships revealing who she liked and didn’t like and the negative impact of that. I have many different sides to myself, just like you and everyone else. I don’t know anyone who is unidimensional.

    By the way, it seems like Gretchen has realized that responding to my accusation by first dismissing it as “politically correct verbiage” and then threatening to end the blog, are not particularly helpful or reassuring responses. Perhaps her new strategy to address this issue will be more appropriate and effective. Let’s see.

    • Guru says:

      Renee. as I said to Barry I’ve largely moved on from the whole fiasco of the past few days. Everything is cleaned up, so to speak, on an immediate basis there.
      I can only offer a couple of initial thoughts for now…
      You’re right that there are many facets to ourselves, which also tells me there are many facets to our pain as well.
      I suspect long-time patients such as yourself who have worked on a lot of feeling may still have fragmented blockages remaining which can be EXTREMELY difficult to work on, perhaps because those facets of oneself still holding onto old pain sees the excruciating reliving of traumas the other facets of self had to endure in therapy, and those remaining facets ‘hunker down’ into even stronger defenses.
      One clue to this fragmentation of some disparate facets holding on to pain is recalled from the ‘damsel in distress’ discussion with you, Daniel, and I. The exact post you made I don’t recall at this time, but you referred to all of your sudden unpredictable ways you perform ‘fight or flight’ responses, hinting at those fragmented parts of self with well-defended pain still locked away.

      If my theory holds any credible water, I can only be fair and say it would apply to me as well.

      Just some miscellaneous thoughts I wanted to jot down before they forever slip out of my mind.

  136. Guru says:

    I’m not exactly sure what to say to Renee yet. The right words haven’t yet coalesced in my mind, so….for the moment…
    Phil, let’s commiserate in our despair from our respective forlorn heartbreaks as we listen to a couple of old songs, first of tragedy, and then of some hope.

  137. Phil says:

    Guru, why don’t you tell Renee that you love her? That would even things up and maybe help love to blossom on the blog.

    • Guru says:

      Sorry to burst your bubble, Phil, but I explained the entire truth as much as I could to Barry. I really don’t love Renee. I don’t even agree with her on many things she holds dear and important. This doesn’t mean I dislike her, though.

      I wanted to go to the bank yesterday and suddenly realized it was Martin Luther King holiday. It irritated the hell out of me for the inconvenience, while Renee holds race issues of very high importance. That’s just one example where we’d have serious incompatibility issues.

      • Guru says:

        I remember going home and thinking, “Man there’s been 80 million people killed in car crashes since World War 2. Why isn’t there a car crash holiday that closes down everything?” Another instance of where I felt like a completely ignored subhuman scrub.

        • Phil says:

          Maybe the car crash holiday in the future will be known as Elon Musk day, because he’s pushing so hard for driverless cars, even at the risk of killing a few people as it’s perfected.

        • Sylvia says:

          Maybe we do need a memorial day to those gone by car accidents, and a recognition of how families are devastated in order to change our consciousness and focus. So, the car companies and infrastructure designers would pay constant attention to road and vehicle safety for our future and always be working to improve it. Maybe more safety conscious commercials for a start instead of one where someone is driving their SUV in the countryside having a great time. The stuck-in heavy-traffic ones don’t sell, probably.

          I think you are right, Guru, that it doesn’t get nearly enough attention. Our culture is probably in denial of the danger that we face in driving because we need this kind of transportation in order to get around. I think the reality of the danger is downplayed for economic profit.

          • Guru says:

            Sylvia, of course my inner heart is going to mesh with all your post above to where I would jump up and down like a giddy child squealing, “BINGO!”
            The problem in general is so gargantuan that I really can’t spend much time or energy focusing on it myself. I’m so small compared to the size of the problem at large and I’m extremely worried about my own future and how I will personally live in the years ahead.

            The *only* reason I personally brought up “Why don’t we have a car crash holiday?” was to share to Phil one way how I would be incompatible with that Renee has close to her heart. I shared the momentary irritation only as an example and I quickly moved on. I can’t do much more there.

            Daniel holds the Jewish experience and the Holocaust close to his heart, and even there I would be more in alignment with his views as opposed to Renee’s.

            • Guru says:

              When Renee suggested dismantling Israel altogether my first mental reaction was, “Oh come on, seriously?”
              But as Gretchen said in her very long post about the blog, there will be a wide range of opinions and value systems here.

      • Phil says:

        I worked yesterday so it wasn’t much of a holiday, and I do all my banking online so that isn’t an issue for me. But it would be nice if we had some more holidays with everyone off from work, except maybe bank employees. So you blame Renee for MLK day?


        • Guru says:

          Phil, I like you. I really do, but I hope you rethink your last question for a while and please give me a little more emotional intelligence credit than that.

          • Phil says:

            Guru, sorry, I guess it wasn’t such a good question.
            Something outrageous I learned yesterday, Alabama and Mississippi honor MLK and Robert E. Lee on the very same day. Many of the southern states still have various other holidays remembering confederate heroes. I don’t know whether banks are open or not on those days. This country has a very long way to go.

  138. I had the same thought Barry ! Gretch

  139. Guru says:

    The blog has stayed quiet for several hours, so let me add a simple follow-on to my post from earlier today about Israel.
    If I led a small tribe of 12 million or so people (very small in comparison to world population of billions) and half of my tribe was wiped out, it only makes natural human sense to me that I would want to build a strong, defensive sanctuary over my ancestral homelands for my surviving tribal members to gather for protection from possible total extermination.
    I’m not a religious person & not even from a Jewish background, and even I can see why Israel had to be formed in the face of an emergency, extinction level situation after the end of World War 2.
    So when Daniel and Renee had their debate about the existence of the Israeli state, my siding with Daniel in that case was not from trying to be friendly with him or to be enemies with Renee. I think any rational group would want to fiercely defend what remains of the group after after a catastrophic emergency.

    • Guru says:

      Strangely enough, the Israeli formation story seems to vaguely rhyme with the post I wrote to Renee earlier today when describing individual therapy progress. When fragmented parts of ourselves face a terrorizing painful reliving, the remaining fragmented parts still holding onto pain may naturally want to ‘hunker down’ with vastly strengthened defenses thereafter and harder to access feeling in those areas.

    • Phil says:

      Was any of this disputed?

      • Phil says:

        Guru, maybe exactly what constitutes “fiercely defend”, and “ancestral homelands” is the question. Are you trying to rekindle this debate? Why would you want to do that?

        • Guru says:

          Phil, I wasn’t trying to rekindle a debate. I can’t afford to drain too much personal energy on something so far away from me. My goal was to give a brief overview of my own critical thinking on the matter, as I felt unfinished with “Oh come on, seriously?” when I shared my first reaction about Renee desiring a dissolution of Israel.
          I wanted to provide this small overview so I wouldn’t come across as an unthinking sycophant of Daniel’s without some capability of my own critical thought.
          I don’t plan to carry it further, as I explained to Renee below.

  140. Renee says:

    Ugg, I’m curious about your starting to incorporate psychobabble, like “fragmented parts”, into your posts about me. Can you share where you are getting these words from? I’m also curious about your intense interest in me and analyzing me. On the one hand, I feel flattered. On the other hand, I wonder what purpose it’s serving you. Didn’t Gretchen suggest we look at ourselves first before focusing on the business of others? While I think she was speaking indirectly to me, I think this suggestion might also be helpful for you.

    • Guru says:

      Renee, in regards to your description of my ‘intense interest in you’, it was borne of two completely different factors.
      a) During the ‘damsel in distress’ episode with Barry, my interest was in trying to see if you needed some help with some feeling you couldn’t express since it seemed really odd to me that a multiple-decade Primaller wouldn’t respond to Barry’s brusque comment towards you at the time. I thought I could rush in to help since I had (and have) a mild liking of you.
      b) During the episode where you wrote “I love you” (replete with hear emoji) my ‘intense interest’ eventually morphed into standard frustration with you after realizing you meant something significantly different.
      Why do I use ‘standard frustration’ with you?
      –Gretchen seems frustrated with you to the point of considering a blog shutdown
      –Margaret seemed frustrated with you since she was worried you’re trying to annihilate Gretchen
      –Barry seemed frustrated with you for many apparent reasons I can’t immediately remember
      –Daniel seemed frustrated with you for many obvious reasons, spanning the gamut of Israel to race relations to Freud to world colonization
      –Leslie seemed frustrated with you to where she said your comments are becoming dangerous, and that you magically make yourself both the hero and the victim
      –I myself have started to feel this frustration with your ‘I love you’ (replete with heart emoji), leaving me on a strange ruminative tailspin of misunderstanding

      When you look at the list above, can you see something significant starting to pile up here?

      That’s why I went into my analysis of you in response to your January 16 post. I mentioned ‘fragmented parts’ because, yes I admit I’m trying to speculate why you frustrate so many people.

      I still try to maintain a positive outlook towards you as much as I can, regardless.

      • Guru says:

        I even forgot to mention Vicki’s own frustrations with you from long ago on the blog, so I might as well add that to the pile now.
        It just seems you must have some very wily defenses that are hard for most people to grasp, I don’t know.

        • Guru says:

          Oh yeah, Larry was frustrated with you too! It seemed to necessitate a phone call on your part, so now we have frustrations from:
          –Daniel (of course)
          –Gretchen (of course)

          That’s the list I have so far, any others I’ve missed?

          • Guru says:

            I mistakenly duplicated Gretchen on the list, so there should only be eight people so far instead of nine.

          • Phil says:

            Guru, those are probably differing feelings people have had towards Renee, or at least different levels of frustration, so I doubt the value of such a list. I probably get frustrated with just about everyone at one time or another.

            • Guru says:

              Phil, can you tell us a story of how you were frustrated with Renee? I promise not to put you on my dubious list, if you like.

              • Phil says:

                I pass on that, and hope to still not be on your dubious list. Can we see that list? Why not say more on how you’re feeling towards Renee instead of adding in everyone else?

                • Guru says:

                  Phil, OK do what you will. I just found it striking that Renee seems to frustrate a larger swath of people than most. Conflicts and frustrations are inevitable with any interpersonal relationship, to be sure, but to have frustrations rise to the point where Gretchen was considering a blog shutdown, then it would seem worthwhile to analyze why there is so much frustration with Renee overall.

                  • Phil says:

                    What have you concluded from your analysis?

                  • Guru says:

                    I mean we looked very deeply into the roots of why Patrick was frustrating for others, and it only culminated in his personal banning from the blog, not the next level upwards from there where the ENTIRE blog could be shut down.
                    So yeah, I would think analyzing why Renee can be so frustrating would be even more compelling given the potentially more dire consequences for the blog.

                    • Phil says:

                      I don’t like discussing people in front of them, as if they don’t hear. I wouldn’t like to be discussed on the blog in that way. That’s kind of humiliating.

                    • Guru says:

                      Phil, I’m sorry you think I’m trying to humiliate anyone. I’m not trying to do that at all. Everything I said was simply regurgitating what was shared here at some point. I hope nothing private was shared.
                      I didn’t know how else to explain what I was seeing, what the pattern I was seeing overall. How else could I possibly do it?
                      Maybe I should spend less time on the blog and let others take over, for I do have a lot of external frustrations to tend to.

  141. Renee says:

    Ugg, here’s my response to your comment: “If I led a small tribe of 12 million or so people (very small in comparison to world population of billions) and half of my tribe was wiped out, it only makes natural human sense to me that I would want to build a strong, defensive sanctuary over my ancestral homelands for my surviving tribal members to gather for protection from possible total extermination.” Half of my tribe was wiped out. But that doesn’t give me license to slowly wipe out another tribe.

    • Guru says:

      OK, let’s go ahead and respectfully agree to disagree with each other here in general. For the sake of my own much-needed mental health, lightness, and efficiency it would be best for me to leave this in Daniel’s wheelhouse.

    • Daniel says:

      Renée is right of course. The Jews in Israel slowly wiped out the Palestinian tribe so from the 168,000 that lived within sovereign Israeli borders in 1949, only a meagre 2,037,000 remain today, an appalling annual wipe-out rate of + 3.48% (one of the highest in the world, by the way).

      • Barry M says:

        Game, set, aaaaannnnnnddddd Match!

      • Barry M says:

        Not sure if I’m Daniel’s unthinking sycophant Guru. I think (I think) but I have to go research sycophant. I’m gonna say No I’m Not first though, although I am fond of elephants!

      • Barry M says:

        By the way Guru, I’m impressed with all you’ve written today.

        • Guru says:

          It’s ironic you’d say this, Barry, for Phil’s latest post to me and all the writing I’ve done here has led me to consider taking a break from the blog for a while.
          Maybe I should just take it to heart that people who (at least sometimes) don’t take the blog seriously can be a real source of frustration for those who do, for you never know when someone is serious or not.
          There are plenty of other capable bloggers here who can contribute.
          I don’t know what else I can say for now.

  142. Leslie says:

    I would like to interject here that I do not think the blog closure idea was to punish nor ban Renee. As Gretchen said – many online postings become much too angry and unhelpful because of the anonimity and distance provided when a number of people are involved.

    I was thinking before of how at in-person Retreats arguments took place – often half way thru but that is another story – and then there was professional help at the ready and time to process.
    There was care and help for everyone and even time for people to get to know and appreciate each other – even if there were great differences of lifestyle, opinions
    etc. Working on being both honest and vulnerable accelerated this process and that is what we were there for – to get help!

  143. Guru says:

    One last note to Phil: If in case you thought I was trying humiliate Renee (which I was not), I do want to add that it would be difficult to be humiliated by a blog someone doesn’t take seriously. It would be like a toy clown trying to humiliate you, I would think.

  144. Phil says:

    For me, having people talking about while I’m listening in could feel humiliating, if it was criticism. I didn’t say you were trying to humiliate Renee. But it’s one reason why I didn’t want to participate with that. Just say what you need to say to her is what I think.
    After reading Daniel’s comment I did some quick research on Google and the numbers I saw were far different, as to how many Palestinians or Arabs were living in Palestine in 1947.

    • Barry M says:

      I checked on Google too Phil, and the numbers I saw were pretty close to Daniel’s, both in the late 1940s and currently.

    • Daniel says:

      Phil, without getting into the details, which we can do if you like, even when compared to the pre-war 1947 numbers (rather than the post war 1949 numbers which I referred to, as did Renée I think) , the Palestinian population in Israel (and elsewhere) grew substantially. So in either case there was no real “wipe-out”, was there?

      By using the same transitive verb “wipe out”, Renée compared what is happening to the Palestinians to what has happened to the Jews. Just so you know, only couple of years ago the global Jewish population has reached its pre-holocaust levels of about 16 millions. Palestinians, on the other hand, grew from about 1.2 million in 1948 to 14.3 million today, a 1,092% growth.

      • Guru says:

        Daniel, something struck me here…
        It’s true that a person can only be Jewish by birth if the child’s mother is already Jewish, isn’t that correct?
        Would it also be fair to say, to any degree, that since the Jewish population has faced significant growth challenges (as opposed to Palestinians) in the decades after the Holocaust, that there may be lots of pressure placed on young Jewish women to be mothers (much more than normal) to carry on and grow the tribe if women hold such supreme birth motherhood power under Jewish law?

        I’m simply asking out of pure gentile ignorance, so please forgive any crass speech on my part.

        • Daniel says:

          It’s an interesting thought, Guru. I don’t know of any explicit demand to do so, but I’m sure that it’s somewhere in the collective unconscious. It has nothing to do with the Palestinians, though.

      • Phil says:

        Daniel, you were responding to Renee’s statement, whether it was literally true or not. A lot of people can be “wiped out” and yet the population has grown. There has also been a lot of refugees. The numbers probably don’t reflect the complexity of what happened. I find myself usually sympathizing more with the Palestinians than the Israelis, even if their condition is partly self inflicted. Given a choice I’d prefer not to live in that area at all. But these are issues I rarely think about. Too bad people can’t get along and live together, respecting each others beliefs, religions, and backgrounds.

        • Phil says:

          What happened? The blog went silent today.

          • Guru says:

            Everyone went to an exclusive, month-long party on an ultra-wealthy friend’s yacht exploring some beautiful islands near Greece. We’re enjoying the finest of ocean landmark views, meals prepared by a three-star Michelin chef that are delivered by our personal butlers, and the most emotively engaging live entertainment money can buy. Our cabins and other personal accommodations are sinfully decadent from top to bottom.

            We collectively decided not to invite you. I’m sorry, Phil.

            • Guru says:

              I was also directed by the others to tell you that you should feel privileged that I informed you of this development, for many were inclined against saying anything to you at all about it.

            • Phil says:

              Guru, you have quite an imagination. I want to visit Greece, it’s high on my list of places, but not in a luxury yacht.

            • Barry M says:

              Since we’re lightening up, Guru, have you ever thought of being an Internet phantasy advisor? Do you know how much influencers make these days? Hell, I’d sign up for that cruise in a heartbeat, even if it just meant that you couldn’t be mad at me for travelling since you’d be there too!!
              I’m 50/50 on inviting Phil. I kinda like the guy, and he’s going through a lot these days, most of which can’t be his fault ‘cos he’s a GOOD guy.
              I am wondering though, are you about to boast of your trip to your homeless alley-living buds, or are you wink-winking it?
              Gretchen, yeah, I know, I should probably join a Zoom group pretty soon.

  145. Guru says:

    I must break my long hiatus from the blog to say I was given a humble reminder that I have frustrated others at times as well, including Barry, Vicki, Margaret, Leslie, Larry, Gretchen, and perhaps a few others.

    It was a humbling message I received backstage from covert parties, so it’s only fair I share that to keep my conscience clean. Thank you.

    • Barry M says:

      And I don’t think your neighbours are happy with you either!
      Don’t worry Guru, I don’t believe any of us haven’t frustrated every one else at some point. Just some more than others.

      • Guru says:

        Barry, regarding your first sentence I won’t blame you for not knowing, but you don’t have any idea of the entire story from start to finish.

        When you say “And I don’t think your neighbors are happy with you either!”, to me it’s like having someone steal $2 million worth of my sanity and they were unhappy with me because I put up enough resistance so they couldn’t steal the remaining $100 worth of bread crumbs left of my sanity.
        I hope that analogy helps clarify a bit even if actual facts aren’t known by you.

      • Barry M says:

        Guru, come on. Of course I don’t know your entire story. None of us know anyone else’s entire story, nor would we be interested in most of it. My first sentence was merely an attempt at a humourous intro. My second and third, which I feel you should focus on more, just an attempt to ease your distress.
        Thanks for not blaming me.

        • Guru says:

          Barry, as much as I’m going to hate doing this nitpicking, I must say I already find significant contextual issues with the first four sentences of the post you just made because they can be notoriously misleading for the uninitiated reader. The last two sentences were OK, though.

          I’m not saying this to pick on you or to battle you over minutiae, but rather to point out potential problems as a means of partial self-defense.

          You just happen to have a swashbuckling style of communication where mine tends to be more detail-oriented.

      • Barry M says:

        ps., good to know that at least once in your life you were a multi-millionaire.

  146. Margaret says:

    in any case, it seems sloppy logic to use the numbers of a group of people in 1949 and compare them to the actual number of the group to ‘prove’ the point that there have been no large numbers killed in between that time.
    with that kind of logic, comparing the number of Jewish people in let’s say 1939 and now, could also show they have increased their numbers a lot.
    that is only logical in sixty years of time, isn’t it?
    I feel both parties have suffered injustices and the situation right now with the ultra right government won’t help in my opinion to restore the situation too an acceptable degree for both sides, sadly enough.

  147. Daniel says:

    Margaret and Phil,
    Yes, when an accusation of committing a murderous genocide is being leveled against a people, it is important, both legally and morally, whether that accusation is, as Phil says, “literally true or not”. It’s not a game. Words have meanings. And Phil, you are welcome to show any people whose population is being “wiped out” while at the same time is also growing in numbers, and substantially so.

    Margaret, you assume wrong, the increase in global Jewish population since 1939 is not “a lot” but something around 0%. And since Renée talked about an ongoing genocide of, presumably, Palestinians, comparing the population numbers of past and present to disprove her claim is actually pretty sound logic.

    • Phil says:

      Daniel, I want to add that my opinion and feelings on this aren’t based on anything anyone’s said here. They aren’t necessarily that solid either. I’m sure I could be better informed, but I’m not looking to the blog for that.

      • Sylvia says:

        Me either. It’s mostly about feelings I want to share or read about others’ experience with them or their daily problems or happenings, good or not so good. What’s going on in their life or with an old feeling or insight. I think that makes me care about them like a family.
        My cats are driving me nuts. I’m copying Otto’s style there. I’ve been sick lately and it’s like a circus of cats that won’t train or behave here.

        • Barry M says:

          Hear, hear Sylvia. The Blogs true raison d’etre.
          Sorry about your cats driving you crazy while you’ve been ill. I think we both knew that that was just a matter of time though. If it would help I know a cute little bug-eyed Boston terrier that would like nothing more than to keep your wayward felines in line. Shall I send her over?

        • Paul Garland says:

          -” My cats are driving me nuts. I’m copying Otto’s style there. I’ve been sick lately and it’s like a circus of cats that won’t train or behave here”-

          -Ha ha ha ha !

  148. Renee says:

    Ugg, Daniel, Phil, Margaret, Barry, a few years ago the Center for Constitutional Rights published the article titled, “The Genocide of the Palestinian People: An International Law and Human Rights Perspective.” In it they stated the following: “While there has been recent criticism of those taking the position that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, there is a long history of human rights scholarship and legal analysis that supports the assertion. Prominent scholars of the international law crime of genocide and human rights authorities take the position that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinian people could constitute a form of genocide.” The article goes on to explain how the use of the word genocide is justified. The number of killings of Palestinians by the Israeli government since 1948 is over 5 million. To me, this indefensible.

    • Guru says:

      Renee, I read through the article and couldn’t find the number of killings tallied at 5 million. I would imagine the number being much lower than that, but what do I know? I agree forceful expulsions of entire villages and killing residents would be morally wrong, though I still believe the Jews were entitled to a safe homeland given what happened under the Third Reich.

      So, what to do? I briefly wondered if carving up a piece of Germany (say 25% of the land) and declaring it a state under Jewish religious authority would have been a viable compromise solution immediately after the war. Probably a bad idea, a disposable fleeting thought, I don’t know.

      In retrospect I felt I was a bit too harsh when I gave out the list of all the people who might be frustrated with you, so I do feel apologetic to a degree there. I had to process some really hurtful frustration for a few days, and I’m glad none of this deterred you from returning to the blog.

      • Renee says:

        Ugg, let’s assume that the Jews are somehow “entitled” to a safe homeland. Do you have any ideas why the Israeli government needs to keep continuing it’s forceful expulsions of entire villages and killing residents by its illegal occupation and on-going settlement expansion?

        You mention the possibility that part of Germany could’ve been carved out to accommodate a Jewish state. This is an interesting idea. My idea would’ve been to just let the Jews who survived the Holocaust return to their original homes and provide alternative housing to those whose homes had been destroyed while they were rebuilt. My theory is that it was the collective guilt of Western countries that they were complicit in the Holocaust by closing their borders to Jews when these governments knew what was happening to them in Europe, that made them resort to a colonial solution of carving out other peoples’ land. I also think that by just giving Jews their own country, they didn’t really have to address the on-going antisemitism in their own countries because they’d “solved” the problem.

        I have no problem with you listing the people who might be frustrated with me, so no need to apologize. I was raised to be a people-pleaser and caretaker. I feel that learning to tolerate people being frustrated with me is part of my growth. I’m still puzzled as to why it matters so much to you whether I contribute to the blog or not.

        • Guru says:

          Renee, I gave your last sentence, “I’m still puzzled as to why it matters so much to you whether I contribute to the blog or not.” some serious additional thought and realized…
          I look up and down at the usual blog contributors of current times and you are the *only one* I’ve actually met with in person. So I think there is a small, pleasing extra shell of ‘personal familiarity’ even though I didn’t meet with you much in person.
          I could name a couple other names of people I knew in person from the Institute who were here on the blog years ago. I felt an extra sense of disappointment when they quit blogging since I am completely detached from all others aside from through computer pixels or by phone.
          Most everyone knows everyone else here in person with much stronger connections overall, so I’m personally much more distant than the others to where you’re my last in-person connection to the Institute at this time (aside from Gretchen).

          I think this explains a large part of it.

          I have a percolating idea regarding your Israel question. that, Since a local German post-war solution never materialized for Holocaust victims, there arose an extra strong sense of preciousness and urgency felt by many Jews to be firm custodians of ancient Jewish holy sites for fear of destruction by others and maybe to be blessed by God, since no one else will save the surviving Jews here on Earth.

          • Guru says:

            I should have edited out the word ‘that’ from the first line of my previous post.
            Also, I considered using the word ‘Yahweh’ instead of ‘God’ in the last line, but what left completely uncertain whether to do so.

            This sort of stuff is really more in yours’ and Daniel’s field of expertise, even though the Israel topic is of mild interest to me overall.

          • Daniel says:

            Guru, Zionism was strictly secular. In fact, some of the religious attitudes were, for religious reasons, very anti-Zionist.

            • Guru says:

              Daniel, well see? That is very surprising to me and shows why it would be rather pointless to ask me about Middle Eastern affairs beyond the very basics,

              I’m more personally entranced with clawing out my own share of ‘PIG’ouvian taxes from deci-million dollar or higher economic ‘pigs’ who were enormously bloated at the trough through the critical assistance of large masses of high-velocity, deadly automobiles. This is a highly niche topic very few people have any interest in, so I just go off into my own little world beyond this point.

          • Renee says:

            Ugg, thanks for explaining why it matters to you that I contribute to this blog. I guess it makes sense. Although, how having met me a couple of times in the 1990s allows you to feel a personal familiarity with me is interesting. I’m not sure what to make of that.

            I think you might’ve misunderstood my Israel question. Here it is again: “Do you have any ideas why the Israeli government needs to keep continuing it’s forceful expulsions of entire villages and killing residents by its illegal occupation and on-going settlement expansion?” Any thoughts?

            • Guru says:

              I tried to best to the best of my ability to answer your question previously, but more to the point, didn’t you notice where I wrote to both you and Daniel multiple times I won’t be the most qualified person to ask these questions? It would be akin to asking a makeup artist about the finer points of discrete mathematics.
              I thought you said you are a ‘people pleaser’ and not a ‘party pooper’? Why the gradual, shadowy turn of demeanor? I don’t understand.

              • Guru says:

                I’m doing a terrible job cleaning up my posts.
                The first line of the previous post should start as, “I tried to the best of my ability…”.

              • Renee says:

                Ugg, it seems that I’ve frustrated you too. Just for clarification, in terms of labels, I see myself as a “recovering people pleaser”.

                • Guru says:

                  Renee, that’s fine, but can’t you exclusively practice your recovery on those whom you don’t love as much as myself?

                • Barry M says:

                  Now, Guru, do you understand?

                  • Guru says:

                    Renee and Barry,
                    Allow me to go off the beaten track for a second and clear up something that might have been a problem. I talked about ‘PIG’ouvian taxes and going after economic ‘pigs’. I want to clarify I wasn’t meaning people who happen to be overweight or obese (who can be hurt by the word ‘pig’).
                    I look at obesity as an entirely different matter than economic pig’ishness.
                    Obesity generally comes from huge amounts of anxiety and fear being stuffed down with comforting food. Also the brain craves variety, with a wide variety of food tastes cradling the brain’s need there even though weight gain can easily occur as a result.

                    I remember the few times in my life where I was completely thin, normal weight, I was anxious as hell all the time. My life and entire body felt as though it was mortally endangered at all times when I was thin. Excess food helped put that away for me.

                  • Barry M says:

                    Nope, wasn’t a problem.

    • Phil says:

      I read much of this material. I can’t say I’m convinced that what’s happened is genocide. I’d have to see other sources. I think this is an extreme position on the issue coming from very progressive sources. I think calling it genocide is quite an accusation.

    • Daniel says:

      All you need to know about the Center for Constitutional Rights is right there in its “How we Define Victory”:

      In decisions about what cases to take and in our assessment of the outcome of a case, CCR looks beyond a narrow legal lens and considers above all a case’s value to the social movements of which it is a part.

      In other words, the value is not in truth or fair-minded assessment, but in its contribution to the social movement and its cause. Couple that with the fact that Palestinian Solidarity is one of the stated causes of that organization and you get the full picture.

      Reading that tendentious, cherry-picking article, reeking with the effort to accuse, makes one believe there is no real conflict and that the Palestinians are just a bunch of poor and innocent snow whites.

      If any of you wish to look into this complex conflict, look for fair-minded historians not political activists.

      Oh, and the number of 5 million, is made up. Deliberately so. It is not even one hundredth of that.

      • Renee says:

        Daniel, what you see as a true and and fair-minded assessment, I see as simple confirmation bias. “Fair minded” historians are those who agree with our biases. Historians who do not agree with our biases are not “fair-minded”. For me, honest historians are reflective and up front with their biases. Dishonest historians are in denial.

  149. Margaret says:

    what I don’t like in this argument about Palestinians versus Israeli, is that it seems to see them as ‘groups’, not individual paople.
    I remember seeing once a documentary about an oorchestra that was formed by both Jewish and Palestinian musicians, as a symbol of how people of both sides can work together peacefully and create beauty, still…

    noow something different that really struck me, while reading a book from an Antwerp comedian who travelled from Antwerp through France, Spain , Marocco, the WEst SAhara , Mauretania , and senegal to Dakar, riding a small old Vespa.
    I like reading it a lot since me too I travelled with a very old small motorbike when I was 20, so it brings up great memories.
    but o few facts struck me, in his story about travelling through part of the Sahara he mentions how huge this desert is: the entire USA would fit into it easily!
    then in Mauritania he saw aan old man moving around with chains on his ankles, and realized himself there was only one explanation possible, the man being a slave.
    it turns out in Mauritania slave trade was forbidden only in 1981.
    and only in 2007 keeping slaves became illegal, but so far there has been only 1 conviction…
    more information about the history of slaavery since the 15th until the 19th century, explained hoow Barbarish pirates, Baarbarish as some regional group, used to ‘look for’ white slaves all the way up to Iceland, on one ooccasioon capturing an entire Irish village to sell them on North African slave markets.
    about one million white slaves must have been sold, of couorse on top of all the other slaves , mostly the ones with the darkest skins.
    and of course the Europeans also did their share of slave capturing and selling and exploiting.
    in 1949 there was a resolution against slavery, but it is appaling that in remote countries like Mauretania it was legal to keep slaves up to 2007, isn’t it?
    humans are a strange species, I am sure we have very good sides, but I find our capacity for cruelty and indifferencce also somewhat scary…

    • Barry M says:

      Thinking of you touring around on a little motorbike when you were young makes me smile Margaret. I’m glad you have those memories.

  150. Larry says:

    David Crosby’s death today had an unexpected big impact on me. His introspective music helped me through my tortured early adult years. His death today is a reminder to me that my life will definitely run out too, too soon, and it’s taken me until today to face a little more of the reality that plagued me since I was an innocent toddler too undeveloped to cope with the truth enveloping me about my life’s circumstances.

  151. Daniel says:

    Renée, I know you and I view the historian’s job differently that way. You are a proud post-modernist, believing that there is no historical truth, just a collection of narratives numerous as the number of participants in any given event or process; and each narrative or point-of-view is as valid and true as the others. Furthermore, you believe that any narrative is essentially political, and consciously or not is always serving political aims. Each historian is free to shape his or her narrative to promote specific political aims.

    The problem with this historical relativism is that if all narratives are equally legitimate and no historical truth exists, then the narratives of those calling slavery “black immigration to America”, or as we’ve seen here on the blog, of those claiming that the holocaust never existed, are just as valid as the narratives that claim slavery or the holocaust are real historical facts.

    As for your portrayal of the fair-minded historian as “those who agree with our biases”, perhaps that is true for you, but not for me. I was deeply shocked by some of the books published in the 1980’s by the so-called “New Israeli Historians”, specifically, Illan Pappe’s The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951, Simha Flapan’s The Birth of Israel: Myths And Realities, and Benny Morris’ The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949. To an extent, Avi Shlaim’s Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement and the Partition of Palestine is also in that list.

    These books successfully challenged the official Israeli historiography of the birth of Israel and did so basing their work on newly released documentation in Israeli, British and American archives, and without trying to ideologically cover up what is inconvenient. This is historical research as I think it should be. These books did not confirm my bias but rather did the complete opposite. Yet, the evidence was documented, seemed accurate, and therefore was convincing. I had to change my mind about much of what I thought I knew.

    In my world, it still matters if the “number of killings of Palestinians by the Israeli government since 1948 is over…” 5 million, 50 million, 35,000, or 12. I mean, if it’s all political and subjective, why study it in the first place? Just write an opinion piece.

    • Renee says:

      Daniel, I am not a post-modernist, proud or unproud! I just don’t believe that you can separate the historian from his/her/their ideas. My understanding of a social justice perspective is that historians and journalists are never neutral or objective as most of us were raised to believe. I think this is where you and I disagree. My understanding of a social justice perspective is that it challenges the dominant paradigm of knowledge being neutral as opposed to representing the perspectives and interests of certain people and not other people. The “black immigration to America” narrative was put forth by specific people for a specific reason. This matters. I would argue that it started appearing in right-wing US textbooks as part of the backlash from the Black Lives Matter movement and critical race theory.

      • Daniel says:

        I understand this view and think it has a grain of truth in it. However, you have circumvented the central difficulty that I posed, namely, that it makes ,all views and reports equally “true”. Claiming that the Jews of Europe were systematically murdered during the 1940’s is “the perspectives and interests of certain people and not other people”, just as saying that it didn’t happen is the “perspectives and interests of certain people and not other people”. Crucially, in your perspective both views have the exact same value.

        Or to use the current topic, a historian account claiming the Palestinian Arabs of Lydda were forcefully expelled, although true and substantiated has no more value that a historical account claiming they all willingly emigrated or fled. Both are just “the perspectives and interests of certain people and not other people”.

        Once you give up on trying to find the truth you can concoct any version of it you’d like. I have more faith in people’s ability to have integrity than you do, to be fair-minded, to not cherry-pick. It’s not always easy, but we have at our disposal the tools to do so, based on the scientific revolution that has been taking place since the Renaissance. Methods have been developed exactly to avoid – as much as possible – one’s opinion and politics. One may really desire the sun to revolve around earth yet is compelled to accept the truth that it does not.

        The truth in history is obviously more complicated than that of physics, but the principle remains and one can distinguish between those historians who are fair-minded and those who are not. Those who distort or even falsify history usually take the path of omission. They ignore crucial facts and important pieces of evidence while cherry-picking from the documentation to prove a case. Other are more brazen and straightforwardly falsify the evidence itself.

        I believe that there is such a thing called historical truth, that it exists independently of the subjective world of the researcher, and that it is the historian’s obligation to try and reach it by using as many and varied sources as he or she possibly can. In writing history, the historian must ignore present politics and grapple with his or her own political inclinations while trying to find their way through the darkness of the past.

        • Renee says:

          Daniel, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. The problem, as I see it, is that most biases, including those of historians, are unconscious. We might think we’re being fair-minded and objective, when the opposite is the case. That’s why confirmation bias can be so tricky.

          I’ll tell you a little story. Back in 2015, I had dinner with Gabor Maté. I was trying to get him to speak at one of the big high schools that I worked in at the time. As we walked from his hotel to a restaurant in downtown Toronto, we passed by two groups of protesters on different corners of a street intersection. One group was made up of supporters of Palestinian rights and the other group was made up of supporters of the State of Israel. His first comment was how angry the people on both sides seemed. His second comment was that he tended to side with the “underdog”. While I appreciated his transparency and his not pretending neutrality and objectivity, I wasn’t 100% sure what he meant or who he supported. After dinner, I double-checked what I thought he meant by finding the one article he’d written on this subject. However, I realized that who we see as the “underdog” is subjective. Many people I know, see Israel as the “underdog”. Yet, ironically, they believe they are being objective! The power of unconscious bias, in my opinion.

          • Guru says:

            Renee, not to interrupt your dialogue with Daniel, but your post reminded me of a major contributor to my asking you some weeks ago if you were under any financial pressure. I was already aware Toronto is an absolute hellscape for renters, being among the most expensive cities in the entire world to rent a place to live buoyed by outrageously inflated real estate valuations. I can only imagine this dystopia to be putting many unfortunate people under serious everyday strain.
            It’s land-centric feudalism on full display to me.
            More power to you if you can handle something like that, I sure as hell couldn’t.

            • Guru says:

              At least the Bank of Canada is trying to tighten financial conditions enough to deflate that gigantically overblown real estate bubble….little by little. Going to be a very long unwinding project, but it will still be an oppressively feudalistic structure of emaciated renter peasants and corpulent landlords:

              • Guru says:

                I’m currently situated to where I only have to pay about $300 per month for taxes and insurance (so utilities are extra) for a three-level house with 2-1/2 baths and 5 bedrooms, 10 foot tall ceilings. $300 per month in Toronto? Maybe a sidewalk Port-a-Potty rental to live in (unheated).

                • Guru says:

                  ….And perhaps with enough plaintive squealing and begging along with a $100 key deposit, the modern day urban landed gentry will grant me a locking door for my sidewalk-installed, plastic rental Port-a-Potty unit as was introduced in the post above.

                  • Phil says:

                    I think it’s worth it to live in or near big cities, if possible. They have a lot of employment opportunities, cultural attractions, and interesting people.


                    • Guru says:

                      Phil, yeah my mother felt the same way and then….poof! Just another anonymous, invisible cockroach squashed in the huge crowds.

                • Barry M says:

                  Guru, just so you know, Toronto and Vancouver alternate between which is most expensive to live in. Major difference is, we have views.

          • Daniel says:

            So, Renée, what do you think is the unconscious bias in the social justice perspective you have described and are using?

  152. Phil says:

    The divorce is starting to happen. My wife saw a lawyer yesterday and I have an appointment on Friday. I had thoughts that she could still change her mind, because it’s all so unbelievable and painful, but that’s not happening.
    I saw my younger son over the weekend and told him again about this, and the lawyer appointment, and I could see it hit him hard, even though he already knew.
    It’s really bad and there’s nothing I can do to stop it from happening.

    • Daniel says:

      So sorry that this is happening to you Phil.
      I’m not sure whether you have mentioned it in the past or not, but does your wife have specific grievances against you or your relationship, or did she simply “discovered” she doesn’t love or want to live with you anymore?

      • Phil says:

        Daniel, I did write about this. We had a little incident last May, which became a major trigger for her. An example of how I’m not responsive in the way she wants and needs. In her anger she withdrew from our relationship and moved into another room. For me that was a major decision as it continued week after week, and now many months. She added this incident to a list of other similar incidents from the past, which she never has gotten over. To me, that’s the main problem, she can’t get over things. I guess she can’t because those are major tiggers for her, inexcusable failings on my part, maybe together with some old feeling. Even if she changed her mind, a lot of damage has been done, we’d have a whole lot to work on. I would be willing to try, but, in general, she doesn’t understand or see the value in therapy. So even if I say I will work very hard to be more responsive, because after all, we made it together for 33 years, there must be some reason we could do that, she’s not impressed. It’s too late, she’s decided we’re done, no more chances.
        I’m especially sad for my sons. This is hitting them very hard even though they are grown up in their 20s. It isn’t what I want for them.

  153. Margaret says:

    that must be so painful and frustrating.
    it is also weird, I keep wondering if possibly your wife has some feelings for someone else, even while she denies it, it would explain a lot.
    of course it would also keep hurting a lot.
    hope you have some support, just let me know it when you need a talk.

    • Phil says:

      Margaret, I don’t think that my wife has feelings for anyone else, but who knows. She has denied it.
      I just sent my wifes’s sister in Spain a message describing what’s going on. I don’t think her family knows. I have nothing to lose in doing this, I hate continuing with secrets. It will be interesting to see how and if she responds. We are good friend.

      • Phil says:

        I have a lot of good friends and family members in Spain from many years going there. It feels like all of that will be lost.

        • Phil says:

          Her sister responded and said she was told and does know.. She’s very sad and doesn’t want it to happen. She advises me to ally myself to her, not giving her any excuses to move forward with it. But I think it’s too late, I’ve done the best I can.

          • Phil says:

            My sister-in-law thinks if I’m nice my wife may change her mind, or maybe she knows that won’t work, she’s trying to give me hope. She really doesn’t get what’s going on here. I’ve tried everything, nothing works.
            Today I had some big feelings about my leather coat, which I hardly ever wear, but I did a few days ago. It was a Christmas present from my wife many years ago. We had so many good times together, she doesn’t seem to be remembering that.
            Then it went back to a Christmas in childhood, my mother was going or gone, I was losing my main connection and direction. That was an important moment where I disconnected from feelings. There was no replacement for my mother. In the future I should be able to find a new partner, but I won’t forget the one I have now.

            • Guru says:

              Phil, why not show your wife the leather coat and tell her exactly what you said here? How her old gift reminded you of the good times from the past?
              I’m assuming you still might want to salvage the relationship.

              • Phil says:

                Guru, my wife has heard me crying, it’s much more lately, and she should understand that a lot of it has to do with her, as I’ve said so. I think that’s the best message I can send.
                Tomorrow I meet with a lawyer. I will explain the situation. As far as I’m concerned her lawyer should take the initiative, not mine, to reflect how I feel. Who knows, she could change her mind, but I don’t observe her grieving anything. It seems very unlikely she’ll reconsider. She’s pushing this along at this point, angry and upset.
                So, nice idea, but I’m not going to tell her about my leather coat feeling.

      • Barry M says:

        Phil, I am so sorry for the sudden shattering of your life. I can’t imagine what you are going through, mainly because I never allow myself to even imagine what it would be like to ‘lose’ Leslie. I seriously don’t think I could handle that type of pain.
        I have an addictive personality trait, (I have uncles, grandfathers and siblings that ‘prove’ it’s hereditary) that I have mostly handled throughout my life well enough to have “succeeded”, depending on your definition of success. I know for a fact that I would not be able to say this were it not for Primal.
        I’m not sure I could continue if I were in your place Phil, so please know that
        I am really rooting for you to get through this.
        I can visualize you feeling this pain at a Retreat. I hope YOU can visualize how much support you would get.

  154. This is very sad Phil. I do think your sister in law means well but I don’t think there is some special thing you can do to turn this around. I think you have tried very hard but some things we just can’t control. I know you will get through this but there has to be tremendous grief. Gretch

    • Guru says:

      In my defense I agree my leather coat idea is an extreme longshot, but Phil doesn’t seem as though he has much to lose trying anything at all.

    • Phil says:

      I found out that this sister is the only one who knows about this in my wife’s family. I think she’s wanted to do it mostly in secret because it will be easier for her, with no one asking questions, like why is it necessary, and have you tried to work things out. I don’t want it to be so easy, so I’ve sent a message to her other sister, and it will probably spread from there. I don’t know what that will achieve, but for me it’s a very big deal and everyone should know about it before it happens.

  155. Guru, It’s a sweet idea but I have a feeling it might not get through to her. But yes maybe nothing to lose .G.

  156. Margaret says:

    I think you have every right to do so, after all it is your family as well, isn’t it?

    • Phil says:

      Margaret, it feels like I’m being ejected from that part of the family, her part.
      I do have my own family but I don’t feel very close with them. What I can say is I don’t think they’ll ever reject me. My wife might be more or less ejected from that grouping, I won’t be wanting her around.

      • Paul Garland says:

        Hi Phil,

        I am very sorry for you since as a Primal person you’re going to have to have a lot of feelings which few people will understand, or accomodate.

        -“Margaret, it feels like I’m being ejected from that part of the family, her part.
        I do have my own family but I don’t feel very close with them. What I can say is I don’t think they’ll ever reject me. My wife might be more or less ejected from that grouping, I won’t be wanting her around”-.

        I have been through something similar and yes you really do need to be careful you don’t end up with ‘nothing or nobody’.

        That’s what happened to me 12 years ago; I became suicidal and very ill – I’m far from out of the woods yet. The worse thing I learned is that few care. Precisely because most people ‘need’ to remain defended from YOUR pain. They dowanna get triggered. So much of the legal malarkey, the family malarkey, the ‘property’ malarkey is all a terrible side show to YOUR feelings, so that other people can ‘carry on regardless’.
        You gotta be careful not to let the sideshow of disregard – other people’s ‘denial bubbles’ distract you from your ‘straight and narrow’. Your straight and narrow, somehow has to allow for your feelings whilst you navigate other peoples’ denial. If I was ytou I’d get a good humanistic conventional / counsellor trained in this shit so you have a counselling support.

        I don’t think Primal fits very well with ‘Crisis’.

        And that leads me onto the topic raging since december on this blog:

        This blog cannot be a counselling service, but on the other hand it really aught to be. I mean there ARE standards in counselling where Non Violent Communication can work for everyone because everyone (theoretically here) wants people to feel, rather than become defended from feeling.

        • Phil says:

          Actually I think primal is very well suited for helping me get through this crisis. It’s an extremely difficult situation, but I feel like I’m well on my way. At least as of yesterday and today I’m feeling that way.
          I can’t really expect people to accommodate or fully understand the feelings I’m having outside of the primal community. My wife doesn’t. If she did understand she would be behaving differently and we might not be going through this.
          Basically, I’m going back to where I was before I met her. But now I have a ton of experience in a relationship and I’ve advanced therapeutically. I feel confident I’ll find so